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N.B. – Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accidents, or other adversity, are unable to pay, will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
In our issue of April 1st we mentioned that Brother and Sister Russell had purchased, while in Jerusalem, a lot of olive-wood articles (Napkin-rings, Egg-cups, Pen-holders and Paperweights) designed to be mementoes for TOWER readers. They could not, of course, purchase sufficient to send one to each reader, and so concluded to let the Tract Fund have the charge and benefit, and donated them to you through it. A moderate price was put upon each article, and, after paying the freight and customs duty and postage, any profit remaining will go to augment the general fund for the spread of the Truth. Thus the articles will not only be mementoes of the Holy Land and of Brother and Sister Russell's visit to it last year, but also, indirectly, gifts from them.
Not content with this, they purchased also a quantity of Flower Cards (cards upon which some of the wild flowers and grasses of Palestine are pasted in pretty designs), and these they insist shall not be sold, but given gratis, post-paid, to TOWER subscribers, as special mementoes of their love, which may go to those unable to afford even the small price to secure the olive-wood articles; although one card goes with each order of olive-wood articles also.
Several have sent money for extra Flower Cards, saying that they would like them for their friends; but none will be offered for sale until all the Tower readers who will accept them as love-tokens have had full opportunity to secure them. After that, if any remain, they will be supplied at ten cents each or three for 25 cents; and the proceeds, after paying postage, etc., will go to the Tract Fund.
Please take notice that the Pen-holders are all gone; of the other olive-wood articles and cards we still have a supply; especially of the Napkin-rings, of which a larger quantity came than of others, they being considered very desirable.
A number of letters containing money have recently been lost in the mails. Do not send us money. The postoffice clerks are not all honest, although many of them are so. Thieves can feel the money in the envelope and are tempted thereby to steal. Send Bank Drafts, Money Orders or Express Orders, if you would make sure of our receiving what you send.
|VOL. XIII.||MAY 1, 1892.||NO. 9.|
Many whose hearts were with us in the recent general meeting for Bible Study, in connection with the celebrating of the Memorial of our Lord's death, will be looking expectantly for some report of it – for some particulars more [R1399 : page 131] than were given in few words in our last issue.
The program, as announced, was carried out, five days being devoted to Bible study, and two to the interests of the Colporteur work, with social meetings in the evenings, except on the anniversary of our dear Redeemer's death, when it was memorialized, as he had instructed, with unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine.
Our chapel, which is an upper room on the third floor of the Bible House, over the office of the Watch Tower, had been put in good order, and upon the walls several motto-texts served to enforce both the letter and the spirit of the Word of God. As many will be interested, we will describe them: (1) The one back of the platform reads: "Let Him that would be Greatest Among You be Servant of All." – "One is Your Master, even Christ." – "All Ye are Brethren." – "God Hath Set the Various Members in the Body as it Hath Pleased Him." (2) The one to the right of the platform reads: "Sanctify Them Through Thy Truth: Thy Word is Truth." – "Whosoever Doeth the Will of My Father Shall Know of My Doctrine." – "Let Nothing be Done Through Strife or Vain-glory." (3) The one alongside the organ reads: "Praise the Lord, O my Soul." – "He Hath Put a New Song into my Mouth." (4) The next, along the side wall, reads: "Thou Shalt Love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, Mind, Being and Strength; and thy Neighbor as Thyself." (5) The next reads: "Blessed are the Meek, the Merciful, the Peacemakers, the Pure in Heart, They that Hunger and Thirst after Righteousness, and Those Persecuted for Righteousness' Sake." (6) The next reads: "The Love of Christ Constraineth Us; for We Thus Judge that if One Died for All, then were All Dead, and that We Should Live the Remainder of our Lives unto Him Who Loved Us and Died for Us." (7) The last, next the door, reads: "One Lord – One Faith – One Baptism." – "One Mediator between God and Men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a Ransom for All, to be Testified in Due Time." Besides there are the three beautiful texts painted by Brother Ganoung upon celluloid cards furnished by Sisters Erlenmyer and Clark – mentioned in our last issue. page 131
So far as we are aware nearly all who attended the Convention were greatly blessed. We have made selections from some of the letters received since, which together will convey a fair impression of the joyful season of communion. And yet cold type fails to give the impressions gained by personal contact with the dear ones, so full of love and knowledge and zeal, from every quarter of our land and from Canada. The letters below are generally extracts, except Brother Adamson's, which was handed to the compositor without even a reading, because such was the request of our dear Brother who is the senior Colporteur.
The Anniversary meetings just closed were probably in all respects the best ever held here. There was no waste of time. Those who came to the city early had an interesting meeting in the hall on Wednesday, before the formal opening on Thursday, which was set for the first day of the feast. Again, interesting meetings were held after the week of feasting appointed. Besides this, the testimony meetings, which heretofore filled almost the whole of the first day of the meetings, were held in the evenings at three houses on the hilltop, viz., Brother Zech's, Brother Russell's and Sister Raynor's.
The questions came thick and fast, and Bro. Russell must continue to be meek and teachable, since his knowledge and great capacity to teach are still on the increase. Will the dear Lord grant us for many years to come the services of this wise and willing and holy teacher!
On the first day of the Conference some words of welcome came from Bro. R. (and the Allegheny Church) to the two hundred visitors who had left their homes and interests to go in some cases many hundreds of miles to become more perfectly interested in God's Word and will and ways. His discourse also traced some of the present deceptions of the Adversary, including also an invulnerable argument for the Ransom.
Questions filled in the time Thursday afternoon, Friday all day and Saturday morning session. On Saturday afternoon the clear, convincing sermon on Baptism was followed by the symbolizing of their real baptism or immersion into Christ on the part of about forty persons.
On Sunday morning Bro. Zech preached a beautiful and timely sermon on the Truth-siftings now in progress and yet to come; taking for his text Peter's denial of Christ, his severe treatment at the hands of Satan, the sifter, and the meaning of the conversion that followed. The sermon on "Love," from 1 Cor. 13, which was preached by Bro. R. in the afternoon, will not soon be forgotten by many who heard it. Evening brought the proper time to commemorate the Supper which memorializes the greatest event and transaction the world ever saw. By the Lord's death all mankind were redeemed from death (Rom. 5:19), and the same all may eat or appropriate life by his merits: "I am that bread which if a man eat he shall live forever." But before the world in general can be fed this bread or life, both Christ and his Church must be broken and suffer (often at the hands of the nominal church), which breaking is beautifully shown by the breaking of the unleavened bread used, "for ye are all one loaf." It seems impossible that any reasonable person present could fail to be convinced of the truth of our teaching on this subject. At least three hundred persons participated, and thoughtfulness and solemnity seemed to be over all.
On Monday question meetings continued, while Tuesday and Wednesday were canvassers' meetings, to which many who were not Colporteurs remained, drawn partly by the evidences of God's love and providence to this class, which came out incidentally. From all sides came wonderful testimonies of God's care and keeping, his mercy, providence and grace, and these, added to the great treasure opened of things new and old – the words of life handled – the communion and fellowship so sweet between joint-participators in the same struggles and temptations, joys and sorrows, trials and blessings – must be invaluable to those who have now separated and gone forth to serve Christ's cause and Kingdom during the Christian year on which we have just entered.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – On my way home from the meeting I stopped over night with Brother and Sister Hewes, in Philadelphia. I found them well located, evidently desirous and preparing to do the Master's work. We had a good visit. I talked and prayed with them, asking the Lord to bless their efforts in that city.
I arrived in New York Saturday, 2:30 P.M. Was quite surprised to find the floor of our little meeting-room nicely covered with matting, and supplied with a new organ. I presume it is safe to give Brother and Sister Fairchild principal credit for this kindness.
By request of some of the brethren here, the time of our meeting yesterday was nearly all used in giving a report of the Allegheny meeting. I talked for about an hour, trying to give a fair idea of the subjects considered and truths brought out, as well as the spirit that prevailed throughout the meeting. I am sure it would have done your heart good to hear the testimonies given by all who attended from here. I pray that the meeting may be as great a blessing to all who were present as it has been to the company that went from here.
During the entire meeting this year it seemed evident to me that the Master was present, guiding in all that was said and done. But there were times when this seemed specially noticeable. Sometimes during a prayer, after a sermon or a few words of exhortation, it would seem as if the dear object of all our thoughts was there standing in our midst, saying, "Peace be unto you." And there was no desire on the part of some to see him with the page 133 natural eye, being still more blessed to recognize him by the eye of faith. The sweet influence of his love shed upon us during these meetings will, I trust, go with me during the entire year, and beyond, even unto the end, when we, if faithful, shall partake with him in the Kingdom.
With much love in the Lord, Yours,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I arrived here Thursday evening; and I must say that I am glad that I attended the meeting. I thank you very much for your kindness to me while there. I took extracts from your discourses, and I am now looking them up with my Bible and Concordance in hand. Will just say that it is very profitable employment.
I learned more about canvassing the few days I was there than I would in a long time by actual experience. But I am only selling the one volume at 35 cents, apparently with as good success as I did at 25 cents, but will not say yet. Please send me a few volumes of the leatherette as per enclosed order, and I will try them. I remain your brother and servant in Christ,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Sister Vogel and I reached our field of labor yesterday morning. Sister Lizzie was very glad to see me and to learn that our brother had been immersed and would also go into the "harvest field."
May the Lord's blessing continue with you and Sister Russell, is the prayer of your sister in the Lord's service,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I am very sorry that I could not be with you at the Memorial Supper of our dear Lord, but it was some comfort and satisfaction to think that the fruit of my raising should furnish a part of the entertainment of the saints who there represented the Body of Christ, and perhaps the dear Lord and the apostles saw and took notice of the fruit I gathered for him [Our dear Brother's orange crop was nearly a failure this year, but he gathered one barrel and sent them here to be sold for the benefit of the Tract Fund. Sister Fisher, to whose care they were consigned, paid the freight and turned over the luscious fruit for the benefit of the Convention. It was highly appreciated and the donors remembered. – ED.], although I had no idea of receiving so great an honor as you and dear Sister Fisher have brought upon me. Strange to tell, the thoughts awakened by Sister Fisher's letter in reference thereto make me weep, not with sorrow, but with a variety of emotions too deep for utterance. I feel so little like an "overcomer," and it seems to me the Lord is not helping me, but letting me feel my inefficiency as one of his messengers, and now it seems as though you, dear Brother, and the dear ones who met at Allegheny, had united in bringing my little offering to his notice, and perhaps he looked on it as he did on the widow's mite, at least with love and pity. Lord grant that it may be so!
Oh, if he will only strengthen and encourage me, and help me earn my expenses, I will give my time continually in circulating his gracious gospel of love. The spirit is willing, but oh, the flesh is weak, and I am a very coward, afraid of my shadow, and the sharp, quick ring of the door bells that I must ring often makes me tremble. I would rather face death than the prospect before me, and I hope the Lord will soon relieve or strengthen me for the work. Pray for me.
Give my love to Sisters Russell and Fisher and accept same for yourself, from a very poor fellow-servant.
I went praying and hoping that God's blessing would rest on me and all that would be present. And now for my part I can say that my prayers and expectations were not in vain. I was indeed greatly refreshed and strengthened in the Lord.
I was there about a month ago and got them greatly interested – so much so that one young man said openly: "Now I have some incentive to study the Bible." I was then invited to address them at some future time, and I have arranged to do so next Sunday. Pray that the Lord may help me to glorify his name. If you have any suggestions to offer they will be very acceptable.
I have some of No. 5 (Bible Study) tracts, and I purpose giving one to every one who attends. I may not have enough as the secretary page 134 writes me he is going to advertise the meeting. You might send me about a hundred more.
With much love to you and Sister Russell, I am yours in the glorious hope,
DEAR TOWER BROTHERS: – Please accept a few lines from Bro. Chase and my unworthy self in thankfulness for your kindness while attending the Convention in Allegheny. O! how thankful we are that the Lord permitted us to attend those meetings. I thank the blessed Redeemer for light I have received, and my prayer is that it may increase in me daily, and I humbly ask an interest in the prayers of God's dear children that I may prove worthy of my high calling – that I may meet the Lord with joy.
Brother Chase and I met at Brother McPhail's house last Lord's-day, and had a good lesson on the Ransom. In the evening we met at Brother Chase's home and had a lesson on the Resurrection. Two of Brother Chase's neighbors came in, and they seemed to be interested. Hope it may prove to be "meat in due season" to them.
Brother McPhail started out yesterday to the "harvest work" to help gather in the sheaves. Brother Chase will also start in a day or so to spread the good news to all that have an ear to hear. May the Lord go with them. The Lord willing, I shall do what I can here at home, as my health is poor, but as soon as there is a way open I too will go forth regularly to help spread the good tidings of great joy. Thank God, I am not afraid to read my Bible now. There is nothing in it now to make me afraid. O! We have a Heavenly Father and a blessed Redeemer that we can love now since we know them better. O! I am so thankful that the Lord has led me into his marvelous light; and I thank him specially for the gift of his only begotten Son to be "a ransom for all."
Dear Brother Russell, may God ever bless you in your labor for the Truth. Yours in Christian fellowship,
In the visions of the Apocalypse we read of a wonderful scroll in the right hand of the great King who sits upon the throne of universal dominion. This scroll is a forceful representation of the divine plan, originally existing only in the mind of God, and which could not be made known to men until some one was found worthy to open the seals and display it to view. But "no one in heaven nor in earth was able to open the scroll, neither to look thereon," until one came whom the Revelator describes as "The Lion [the strong one] of the tribe of Judah, the root of David," of whom the testimony is given – "Thou art worthy to take the scroll and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain and hast redeemed to God by thy blood out of every kindred and people and nation; and hast made them unto our God a kingdom and priesthood; and they shall reign on the earth." – Rev. 5:1-5,9,10.
Excepting the bare promise (written on the outside of the scroll – verse 1) of salvation through the Seed of the woman, nothing could be known of the wonderful scheme for human restitution until the Son of God, having left the glory of the spiritual nature, took our nature and by the sacrifice of himself redeemed us from death. Then, having his righteousness imputed to us by faith, we are counted worthy to look upon the scroll as he opens the seals one after another.
Great was the favor bestowed upon the Strong One of the tribe of Judah, in being permitted to open the seals – to carry out and make manifest the grand designs of infinite love – and great is the privilege of those who are permitted to look thereon as the seals are opened. It is not our purpose here, however, to treat of the peculiar symbols relating to the opening of the seals, but rather of what constitutes worthiness in us to look thereon, and what favor of God to us is implied in this privilege of looking.
The knowledge of God's purposes is due only to those able and anxious to co-operate with him in their development; for God does not display his plans to satisfy mere idle curiosity. First, then, if we would comprehend what is revealed within the scroll we must have faith in what is written on the outside – the promised redemption through the precious blood of Christ – and must be sincerely desirous of knowing the details of God's plan in order to an earnest [R1400 : page 135] co-operation with it. In other words, there must be the earnest inquiry arising from a heart grateful for the promise of life through the Redeemer – "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Such, and such only, are worthy to know, and such only ever come to see, in the sense of understanding and appreciating, the deep things of God written within the scroll. Such are the called according to the divine purpose, to be educated in and to serve the truth. Such are the righteous for whom the light (truth) is sown. Such was our Lord's attitude when he said, "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God." (Heb. 10:7.) He was meek and lowly of heart and ever ready to render implicit obedience to the will of God; and it is to those who are similarly meek that he was sent to preach the good tidings (Isa. 6:1 [Isa. 61:1 - site Editor]) – to open the scroll. "The meek will he guide in judgment; the meek will he teach his way." (Psa. 25:9.) If any man have this evidence of worthiness – this acquaintance with the truth – let him rejoice in his privilege and by his works manifest his continued worthiness.
This worthiness is inquired for not only at the beginning, but all along the path of light. If we are not found worthy by the various tests applied from time to time, we cannot proceed in the path of light; and unless the unfaithful ones arouse themselves to greater diligence and watchfulness, the light that already is in them will become darkness. And how great, how intense must be the darkness of one cast out of light. (Matt. 6:23.) To find the glorious hope that once inspired our hearts slipping away and the truth whereon we built that hope beginning to seem like an old song or an idle tale, or as relics of the past to be displaced at any time by any plausible subterfuge of error which our wily adversary may be pleased to palm off as advanced divine truth: these are indications that should arouse any one who discovers them to a realization of the fact that he is going into darkness – a darkness that will only become the more intense as he slips and slides along the backward track.
All along the way, as we have said, we will find tests applied to prove our worthiness to proceed from knowledge to knowledge and from grace to grace. Who is worthy? – worthy to receive the truth, worthy to continue in the truth, worthy to suffer and to endure hardness as a good soldier for the truth, worthy to have part in the ministry of the truth, and finally to be exalted to power and great glory when truth and righteousness shall be exalted in the earth and their glorious triumph begun.
Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23.) At the very beginning of our course we each found some cross confronting us, and had we not taken it up we would not have been counted worthy even to look with intelligent appreciation into the precious truths of God's plan. And as we advance from step to step and find the truth increasingly precious – sweeter than honey from the honey comb – we have these additional evidences of continued worthiness and should greatly rejoice in them as such. Our possession of these truths has thus far proved us meek enough to discard the popular theology of the nominal church and be counted as heretics, turncoats, fanatics, cranks, or whatever our former friends are, in their ignorance, now pleased to term us. And it has proved us meek enough to bear willingly this reproach for the great joy of thus realizing the Lord's approval and of seeing by faith the great blessings in store for us if faithful unto the end.
But "let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall;" for sudden and sharp will be many of the tests applied to prove our continued faithfulness. The world, the flesh and the devil all conspire to allure, ensnare and overcome us. The world will present its allurements through friends or wife or husband or children. They will try to encroach upon the clearly defined line which you have drawn between yourself and the world. Then the flesh will grow weary in fighting the good fight of faith, weary of the reproaches of the world, weary of the alienation of former friends and weary of the self-denying, sacrificing and daily cross-bearing life. Then if you turn aside for a moment to ponder on these things the devil will quickly see his opportunity and will cunningly devise some trial specially suited to your [R1400 : page 136] peculiar condition of mind, and a crisis comes in your experience, the result of which will prove the exact strength of your devotion to God and his truth. These tests God permits and even desires to have come upon us, in order that we may be thoroughly tried and proved either worthy or unworthy of the great reward he has in keeping for those who remain faithful unto death.
The Lord is seeking his precious jewels. Many of them are indeed diamonds in the rough. The real diamond is a noble, loyal, faithful character, devoted and uncompromising in its allegiance to God. Sometimes the circumstances of life have deprived such of education or culture and have left them only sufficient means for the barest necessities of life. But no matter, God's eye is on them: character is what he is looking for, and in due time, when that character is sufficiently developed, confirmed, tested and proved worthy of exaltation, he can and will add to it all the glories of knowledge and wisdom and grace and beauty. But first he will subject it to all the necessary tests. If it is a true diamond it will receive and it will also transmit to others the light of divine truth. Nothing so gloriously reflects the light as the diamond; and nothing so gloriously reflects the truth as the worthy character of the true and faithful saint.
Another way of testing a diamond is to put it under pressure. If it is a real diamond it will stand the pressure, for the diamond is the hardest substance known; but if it is not a real diamond it will go to pieces and thus prove itself. So God allows us to come under the constant pressure of years of toil and care and self-sacrifice to see how we will endure; and blessed is that diamond-proved character that endures to the end. – Jas. 1:12; Matt. 10:22.
Sometimes the tests come in the way of trials of faith, and we are called upon to prove ourselves whether we be in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5) when some subtle errors are presented to us as advanced truth. But if we know the voice of the "Good Shepherd" we will not be easily beguiled. We remember the inspired counsel, "To the law and the testimony: if they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them" (Isa. 8:20); and to the law and the testimony we go, and, relying implicitly upon this as the infallible teaching of the Spirit of God, we are enabled to arrive at definite, clear and positive doctrine. We are not left in doubt as to what is truth, but are enabled to give a solid Scriptural reason for the hope that is in us, on which hope we dare implicitly to rest our faith and with humble boldness to successfully withstand the assaults of error. But O! how dead to selfish ambition, how fully devoted to the will of God such must be.
Let us, dearly beloved, as we realize that thus far God has counted us worthy to look upon the scroll of his plan which has been unsealed for us by our blessed Lord Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, prove our worthiness to continue to look therein and to read the wondrous things of his law, by faithful obedience and loyalty to it in all things. Let us not undervalue our great privilege in being counted worthy to suffer some reproach and some hardness as good soldiers for the truth's sake; and also in being counted worthy to have some part in the blessed ministry of reflecting the light of divine truth: let us prove ourselves jewels of rarest value, diamonds indeed, heartily receiving and beautifully transmitting to others the light of truth, and faithfully enduring the severest pressure that God may permit to come upon us; for, if faithful in these small things, we shall in due time be counted worthy also to reign with Christ in power and great glory. Let us not be like some who have only a little good earth on the surface of their hearts while the heart is really hard and stony. Let the good seed of divine truth sink down and take deep root, and then let it branch out in the life and bear its abundant fruitage to the Master's glory. So shall we be accounted worthy to see the King in his beauty and to live and reign with him as his beloved bride and joint-heir. And when to the "worthy Lamb that was slain" the voice of the multitudes ascribes blessing and honor and glory and power, they will also exclaim, "Let us be glad and rejoice and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." – Rev. 5:13; 19:7.
Next let us visit "Solomon's Quarries," whence the stones for the temple were obtained. They are wonderful in extent, underlying, probably, more than one-half of the city. With lighted candles and our guide we see as much of the quarry as we desire to see, noticing the ancient marks of the quarrymen, and the places from which immense stones had been taken and others are ready to be taken out – reflecting the while upon the quarrying of the living stones, which the great Master Mason, Christ our Lord, is now taking out, fitting and squaring for places in the antitypical temple in the antitypical Jerusalem above.
The space left by this quarrying may yet be utilized for the arrangement of a general sewerage system for the city of Jerusalem, we suggest; and so, too, the taking out from the world of the living stones for the heavenly Temple, the Church, will ultimately redound to the benefit of the world – cleansing it from sin and all uncleanness.
Sunday has come, and we will endeavor to improve its opportunities by becoming acquainted with the missionaries and their work. We attend service at the Protestant Episcopal Church and hear a good practical discourse in English, but find no opportunity for speaking to any of the three ministers present, assisting in the service, nor with any of the congregation. We are rather disappointed at the result of our efforts to gain an acquaintance. We will try another plan, and in the afternoon call upon some other ministers at their homes. We find the Bishop and one of the other ministers absent for the summer season, but find an Episcopal mission service in Arabic, and attend that. The congregation is an interesting one, of native young men chiefly. Upon inquiry, we learn that many of these are employees of the mission in one capacity or another.
On the whole we are forced to the conclusion that "the Americans" had some ground for their charges that the missionaries here misrepresent the spirit of Christ by their rather haughty demeanor. The natives call the residences of the ministers palaces; and indeed they are the finest buildings of the city, aside from hotels and public buildings.
It is a lamentable fact that although some of the missionaries seem to have a desire to do good, they have not that sympathy and consuming desire to do good to the poor creatures about them that they should have, to accomplish much. Here, as everywhere, it requires the truth to sanctify wholly and rightly direct body, soul and spirit in the service, which demands continual self-negation and sacrifice under present evil conditions. The truth is the one thing needful even for present service; but in no place do the "religious people" seem more self-satisfied. The Jews, too, are full of the same spirit, and surely not without some cause. Their synagogue services are more reasonable and intelligent than those of the various "Catholic" denominations entrenched here. They worship individually and singly, or in groups, read the Scriptures and talk concerning their signification. The Talmud, against which our Lord spoke as "the traditions of men," explains away or adds to the Word of the Lord and is their chief shackle. Nevertheless, we find one small congregation of Jews here who reject the Talmud and accept only the Mosaic Law and the Prophets. Their Rabbi, through an interpreter, tells us that there are many similar and larger congregations throughout Turkey and Russia. They call themselves "Caraims." The Jews here would be a most hopeful class for a truth-girded, working, self-sacrificing missionary, such as our Lord or Peter or Paul. As it is, a conversion of a Jew or a Mohammedan is a rare matter: almost the only converts are children cared for as infants, and who grow up Protestants or Catholics in form and name. To offset this, the Jewish schools and orphanages are now active and receive all classes.
Passing out of the Damascus Gate we soon [R1400 : page 138] reach the "Tombs of the Kings." They are spacious vaults cut in the solid rock, communicating with a central spacious room which connects with the outside by a small doorway closed by a rolling stone, like a large grindstone, such as closed our Lord's sepulchre. Outside this small door is a spacious platform suggestive of a place for public gatherings, funeral services, etc., and from it broad steps (about thirty feet wide) lead up to the surface. The Tombs of the Judges are near our course, a little further along upon the side of the Mt. of Olives. They are large and interesting, but less so than the Tombs of the Kings. We will turn and go down the Valley of Jehoshaphat, otherwise known as the Valley of Kidron. Our path crosses and recrosses the bed of the brook Kidron (dry at this season), and passes near the Garden of Gethsemane; and we recall that the Master and his twelve apostles often walked here in going to and from Olivet and Bethany. (John 18:1.) Looking upward on our left, the slope of Olivet is thickly covered with stone slabs, marking graves and sepulchres centuries old. This Valley of Jehoshaphat is the synonym and reminder of God's promise of a resurrection.
We pause for a drink of water from the long-celebrated fountain Enrogel. Farther along we pass the "Kings' Gardens" on our right, and on the opposite side of the valley is the village of Siloam, and a little below it a new Jewish colony in new, small, stone houses, erected, we believe, by Sir Moses Montefiore's benevolence; all very neat and comfortable looking. Just above these villages is the "Mount of Offence," so called because there, to please his heathen wives, Solomon erected temples to the false gods of the Ammonites and the Moabites, Moloch and Chemosh. – 1 Kings 11:1-7.
Here we turn aside and climb the hill-side to visit the Pool of Siloam, opposite the village of the same name. See, a few of the steps leading down to the pool from the hill Zion may still be discerned. We recall the obedience of the blind man who here received his sight on the Sabbath day, and remember that we are already in the early dawn of the antitypical Sabbath – the Millennium – when the Satan-blinded eyes of men's understandings shall be anointed with the ointment from the Lord's mouth mixed with the clay of human instrumentality, and when by faith they shall wash in the fountains of truth then opened to them. How precious the promises, "Then the blind eyes shall be opened," and "The blind shall see out of obscurity." (2 Cor. 4:4; Isa. 35:5; 29:18.) Never before did we realize so fully as during this journey the need of the whole world for the promised eye-salve; and [R1401 : page 138] none seem to need it more than the nominal Christian churches. – Rev. 3:18.
Leaving the Kidron we pass eastward and then northward along the Valley of Hinnom or Gehenna – once used as a place for the destruction of offal and garbage and for the destruction of the dead bodies of the vilest criminals by means of fire and brimstone, and used by our Lord to symbolize the utter and hopeless destruction by the second death, into which all shall be cast who, in the judgment of the Millennial day of trial, shall be found unworthy of life. At the lower end of this valley is the reputed Aceldama or field of blood where Judas hanged himself. The valley is much filled up at present – the natural result of the stone-throwing warfare of former times and of the many destructions of the city and its walls. It is now a fertile garden of olive trees, fig trees, etc., at the lower part.
Passing onward we find ourselves in the Valley of Kidron with its two pools or water reservoirs still fairly preserved. Here it was that Solomon was anointed King of Israel by the command of King David. (1 Kings 1:30-40.) On our left as we ascend the valley are the clean, neat-looking dwellings of "the Germans," or Society of the Temple. We regret that we will not have time for calling upon them.
We have but one day more at our disposal, and will visit Bethlehem and Solomon's pools. The carriage road is good and our contracting guide and friend has provided us a good coach and team, and we are not long in reaching [R1400 : page 139] Bethlehem, the town honored as our Lord's birth-place. On the way we pass "Rachel's Tomb." Near here the beloved Rachel died when giving birth to Benjamin, and tradition declares this to be her tomb. (Gen. 35:16-20.) Here is a cistern where tradition says the star appeared to the wise men the second time to guide them to Bethlehem and the manger. (Matt. 2:1-10.) This reminds us that from the tower upon Olivet we saw the reputed fields where the shepherds to whom our Lord's birth was announced watched their flocks by night (Luke 2:8), and the road we have just traversed in coming from Jerusalem was probably the same that they traveled. We render hearty thanks to God that in the truest sense we have found him that was born King of the Jews and King of all kings, or rather we have been found of him: he has revealed himself to us. "My Beloved is mine and I am His."
The ancient dress and customs are better preserved here than elsewhere, we are told and we believe. The Bethlehemites are clever people, above the average in intelligence and hospitality. We consider them much better samples in every way of our Lord's times than the people of Jerusalem.
Bethlehem was the home of Boaz, and here it was that Naomi came with Ruth, who became the wife of Boaz and mother of Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David the king. But while notable as the birthplace and home of these, Bethlehem's honor comes as the birthplace of David's Lord, the well beloved son of Jehovah God – "Thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, art not the least among the cities of Judah; for out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel." (Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:6.) Here, to Bethlehem as the chief city of their province, came Mary with Joseph her husband, according to the decree of Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor, to be taxed, and here the infant Jesus was born. – Luke 2:1-12.
We visit the Church of the Nativity, built upon the spot. It is in the joint possession of the Roman, Armenian and Greek Catholics, but the apparent harmony between these is somewhat enforced, as appears from the presence of armed Turkish (Mohammedan) soldiers, found necessary to be stationed here by the government to preserve peace between the sects. We descend some steps to about ten feet below the church floor, to the reputed birth-place of our Savior, which is marked by a large silver star, upon which is inscribed, "Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus natus est," i.e., "Here Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary." Another spot marked by a marble slab is claimed to be the place where the holy manger stood.
Connected with this, a long underground passage leads us to a spot where, it is said, the angel appeared to Joseph, directing him to flee with Mary and the child Jesus into Egypt. Farther along we come to the Altar of the Innocents, said to be over a cave into which the children, massacred by Herod, were thrown. Above these memorial spots are several chapels and convents; one, the chapel of Helena, built by the mother of Constantine the Great, A.D. 327, being one hundred and twenty feet long and one hundred and ten feet wide. It contains fourty-four marble columns taken from Mt. Moriah, and supposed to have been pillars of the porches of Solomon's Temple.
Passing along the principal street of Bethlehem to its farther end, we come to the celebrated "Well of Bethlehem," whose water was so highly prized by David. (2 Sam. 23:15-16.) From this point we get a view of the Shepherd's Field. The field is probably the same where David as a shepherd boy tended his sheep, and where his grandmother Ruth gleaned in the field of the wealthy Boaz. "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them ...and said, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people."
Oh! would that the shepherds of the Lord's flock were watching: they would now be advised of the second coming of the Lord's Anointed – not again a man, nor to suffer, to die, to redeem, but now in dignity, authority and power, to [R1400 : page 140] bless and to offer healing and restoration to all whom he then purchased with his own precious blood. Could they but hear it, the message of peace and blessing given eighteen centuries ago has now new force and beauty: it is indeed "good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people." But now, as then, the wise – the truly wise – shall find and know and worship the King, while others know not of his presence: they will see and be guided by God's star; but this time the guiding star will arise in their hearts in connection with the sure word of prophecy, as saith the Apostle. – 2 Pet. 1:19.
In returning to Jerusalem, we make a detour to the Pools of Solomon. These are vast reservoirs by which the summer water supply of Jerusalem was gathered and stored. From these pools aqueducts conduct the water for miles to the city. These are now much out of repair, and consequently of little use. Indeed, the shortage of literal water fitly represents the scarcity of the truth in these parts. May the fountains soon be opened!
Our return journey from Jerusalem to Jaffa is a very pleasant ride at night, in the full of the moon. We reach Jaffa early in the morning, and have time for a visit to a Jewish agricultural school on the outskirts, before taking steamer for the Suez Canal, and thence by rail to Cairo, to see the Great Pyramid.
We conclude our visit to the Holy Land with the hope that ere long the earthly blessings promised may come to the seed of Abraham according to the flesh and to the land of promise, as well as the spiritual blessings upon the spiritual seed, Christ and his Bride, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city or Kingdom from which all of God's blessings will flow to the world – shortly.
A Jewish Rabbi in New York – Dr. Silverman – in his discourse of Sunday, April 3rd, made a suggestion which seems likely to meet with a hearty response from moral and religious people generally. He proposes a Board of Morals to which, as a part of the government, he would favor giving a general supervision of the conduct and teachings of all public assemblages (theaters, lectures, churches, etc.), books, magazines, newspapers, art exhibitions, etc.
We cannot doubt the sincerity of his motives in propounding such a scheme. He and others probably fail to see that while his scheme would indeed be useful in restraining vice, it would put an immense power into the hands of majorities by which the liberties of minorities on various subjects would soon be interfered with, and adjudged subversive of public peace and morals. For instance, any book or magazine opposed to sectarianism (as are Millennial Dawn and the Watch Tower) would come under the ban of the majority who consider that opposition to the sects is opposition to God, and hence contrary to public moral welfare.
However, we fully expect from the teachings of the Bible that such ideas will make considerable progress and ultimately be carried out in connection with a general federation or league of all the principal denominations of Protestant Christians, which will find Roman Catholicism its aider and abettor in all such efforts to restrain all liberty of thought under the name and guise of moral reform.
"The ethical ideal underlying Judaism has become the basis of all modern religions, and to-day both Christian and Jewish churches are earnestly enlisted in the cause of the moral conversion of the masses.
"The masses have been neglected too long. There is such a seething hot-bed of vice, crime, and all manner of corruption that we almost despair of a remedy. This true religion, with its prayer and preaching, with Bible and song, is peculiarly adapted for influencing the moral sentiment, but the moral sentiment of whom? Of those only who willingly go to the church, who are already morally trained up to the point at which they are susceptible of higher development. But what becomes of the masses outside of the church, who cannot be brought within range of the preacher's voice? How can they be morally influenced? There is no doubt that the pulpit, as regards moral reforms on a large scale, is helpless without the aid of the Government. [R1399 : page 141]
"Dr. Parkhurst has demonstrated the fact that the Government does not feel obligated to come to the aid of the pulpit, in carrying out its attempts at moral reform, and that the men in authority will only proceed to act in a case of indisputable civil action. We believed that all along, but now it is demonstrated.
"We have no particular grievance in this regard against the men in authority. It is not they that are entirely wrong in this instance, but the principle by which they are guided. We are brought squarely before the issue that many office holders, politicians and statesmen hold, that the Government is only a civil and not also a moral power. We submit that this view of government is extremely narrow and unstatesmanlike. James Bryce, in his 'American Commonwealth,' has taken the trouble to emphasize this peculiar defect of the Americans. 'The State,' says Bryce, 'is not to them, as to Germans and Frenchmen and even to English thinkers, an ideal moral power, charged with the duty of forming the characters and guiding the lives of its subjects. It is more like a commercial company, or perhaps a huge municipality created for the management of certain business, in which all who reside within its bounds are interested, levying contributions and expending them in this business of common interest, but for the most part leaving the shareholders to themselves.'
"But is that all? Has the Government no higher object or higher duty? Is it more important to have a strong and rich nation than a moral one? I have no hesitation in maintaining, and I believe you will agree with me, that the morals of a free people are equally, if not more, important than their education, health, parks, bridges, commerce, speedway, etc. In a monarchy the stability of society and of the Government is maintained by the threat of a large standing army: in a republic, by the virtuous manhood of the people.
"The only recourse for the pulpit thus far has been to resort to a number of private societies for the prevention of crime and cruelty and for the prevention of the dissemination of obscene literature. But all such societies, and even a dozen more of them, would be inefficient, because they do not represent a scientific, systematic, and absolutely authoritative treatment of public morals.
"The evils which we desire to combat are so great that we need State institutions and State [R1400 : page 141] moneys for the purpose. Just as there is a Board for Public Works, a Board of Public Education, a Board of Public Health, so we need a Board of Public Morals, whose duties shall be to study the moral needs of the masses, to suggest proper legislation, to have the authority necessary for the protection of public morality, and for the creation of such means as will develop it. This board should be non-partisan, appointed by the Supreme Court of the State, and should consist of men of unquestioned integrity, who have made the study of practical morality a specialty, of men from both the clergy and the lay ranks. Without going into the details of such an institution, I submit that this is one of the practical ways in which the State could deal with public morals.
"There are many directions in which such a board could at once act. The crying need of the hour is the regulation of vice. Let such a board or commission undertake to study this intricate and perplexing question. Another much mooted question is the instruction of unsectarian morals in the public schools. There can be no doubt that such instruction is desirable, but it must be wholly unsectarian. By that I mean it must be entirely disassociated from religious teaching or practice. The elements of morality are honesty, chastity, cleanliness, industry, frugality, unity of thought and speech, truthfulness, etc. The Church could privately supplement the public moral instruction.
"I believe the time is now when the Church is ready to concede that it cannot alone influence the masses morally, and that the cause of religion will be advanced if the State will undertake non-sectarian work in the field of ethics."
Mr. Talmage says: – "I was opposed to overhauling the old creed at all, but now that it has been lifted up, and its imperfections set up in the sight of the world, I say overboard with it, and make a new creed. There are to-day in our denomination five hundred men who could make a better one. I could make a better one myself."
LESSON VI., MAY 8, PSALM 84:1-12.
Verses 1 and 2. "How lovely are thy dwelling-places, O Jehovah of hosts. My soul desireth, yea, it longeth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." Thus every soul that hungers and thirsts after righteousness longs to be separated from the evil of this present time and to enter that felicitous state where under God's promised kingdom all things in heaven and in earth will praise him and have his communion, as Adam enjoyed it before his disobedience and fall from favor. Not only so, but, under the provisions of the New Covenant (sealed and made operative by the death of our Lord and Redeemer, by "the blood of the New Covenant"), his people, accepted as sons (John 1:12), become his tabernacles, his dwelling-places. As it is written, "I will dwell in them and walk in them," and "Ye are the temple of the living God." (2 Cor. 6:16; 1 Cor. 3:16.) And all such temples indwelt by the spirit of the truth become beautiful, lovely, amiable, in the eyes of all who have the same spirit; and thus God's children may now have fellowship with him through each other.
Such are not only temples or tabernacles, individually, but the Church of Christ as a whole is made up of living stones in the one great Temple of the future – Christ Jesus himself being [R1402 : page 142] the chief corner-stone – the top-stone. These "living stones" are now being developed, fitted, polished, proved and selected for positions in the future glorious Temple of God. These glorious courts or dwelling-places of God will be transcendently grand; and for a place among those "overcomers," in the immediate presence of God and with our Redeemer – where he is and like him – these are indeed the things for which our hearts and our flesh cry out.
Very different are these views of the dwelling-places of God from those generally entertained by Christian people, who, as they read these verses, will think of the ornate temples of wood and brick and stone in which they worship as the houses of God. But the Apostle declares not only that the truly consecrated saints are the living stones of God's great future temple, and each a miniature temple, but also that "The Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands." – Acts 7:48.
Verse 3. Our common version here gives the inference that sparrows and swallows built their nests in the altars of the Tabernacle and the Temple. But those familiar with the care bestowed by the priests upon the keeping of the Golden Altar will readily see that no such desecration of the sacred precincts of "The Holy" would be tolerated; while the Brazen Altar in the Court – surrounded continually by Levites – upon which sacrifices were kept burning continually, it can be seen would be one of the last places for a bird to choose for a nest in which to rear her young. Lesser's translation is better: "Even as the sparrow hath found a house and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, [so have I found] thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, my God." We must remember that this is a prophecy, representing the experiences of the head and body of the Lord's anointed, and not representing the experiences of the prophet. The rest and peace which the saints find in the two altars is here brought to our attention. The altar in the Court speaks of the great sacrifice for sins on our behalf by our great High Priest, and the Golden Altar in the Holy speaks not only of our Lord's overcoming and acceptableness to God, but also of our acceptableness as joint-sacrificers with him – acceptable through the merit of his sin-offering on our behalf.
Verse 4 declares the joy of all who now or ever shall enjoy a place in the Father's house.
Verse 5 portrays the journey of the consecrated toward that heavenly home.
Verse 6 represents this present time of conflict and disappointment and sorrow – "the valley of the shadow of death," in which, nevertheless, the holy ones may sing for joy and rejoice evermore. "Passing through the valley of weeping, they will change it to a spring: also the early rain covereth it with blessings." The most dreary place and condition is made cheerful and endurable by the presence of those in whom God dwells by his spirit of truth and love. Not only is it blessed to such themselves, but also to all who come in contact with them comes a blessing. The early rain represents the Pentecostal blessing which followed the presentation of the great Sin-offering on our behalf [R1402 : page 143] – upon the Church. The latter rain will be the outpouring of the Millennial blessing after the great time of trouble is ended, at the second advent.
Verse 7. Here the progressiveness of the journey is shown, and the fact that it is an individual work and not a congregational or sectarian one.
Verses 10 to 12. "For better is a day in thy courts than a thousand [elsewhere]: I would rather choose to wait at the threshold of the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." Here the saint is represented as waiting during the present life for admission to "the Father's house," and having here no rest no home. Yet even here, to such, "The Lord God is a sun and shield." As our sun he enlightens us and fills us with a sense of his greatness and perfection, and yet through Christ he is also our shield. After realizing the divine perfection from the divine law we might indeed feel that in our own imperfection it would be a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But whilst showing us the perfectness of his law he reveals to us the shield which he has provided because of our present weakness – the merit of Christ our Redeemer freely imputed to all who will accept it as their covering or shield. To such as long for his courts and who wait at his threshold and who trust in him as both their sun and shield, even now "the Lord will give favor and honor [as his children – even though mixed with tribulation, working patience, etc.], and no good thing [nothing really advantageous to such and useful to fit them for the Father's house] will he withhold from them that walk in uprightness in this way." Yea, verily – "O Lord of hosts, blessed the man [both now and forever] who trusteth in thee." [R1402 : page 143]
LESSON VII., MAY 15, PSALM 103.
Verses 1 to 5. In the beginning of a Christian's experience fear more than love, alas, too often, has the chief control of his heart and lips. And this because of a false theology, taught him from earliest infancy, even in nursery rhymes impressing upon the simple mind theories which, while denominating God the very essence of Love, paint his character and plans as the most atrocious conceivable, and wrest the Scripture "parables and dark sayings" to their support. In this early stage of general Christian experience, therefore, fear, and not a heart full of love leads to worship. This fact is noted by the prophet. – Isa. 29:13.
The bondage of fear in many instances fails to hold the penitent or to draw him near to the Lord, and consequently we frequently hear expressions similar to those of the old familiar hymn –
"Where is the blessedness I knew
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul-reviving view
Of Jesus and his Word?"
Some, however, in spite of all their false ideas, learn in their hearts what they are much slower to learn with their heads, that "God is Love." They drink in the spirit of the Scriptural teaching even when, misled by misinterpretations and twistings, they think that the letter of God's Word is in opposition. Their hearts are better than their theology or their heads.
Such, and still more especially those whose heads as well as their hearts are illuminated by the grace of our God, reach as a development this higher state of Christian experience indicated by the prophet in the verses under consideration. They reach the place where acquaintance with and appreciation of the Lord cast out all fear, and where their whole being loves and praises and desires to serve the grand one who is so worthy.
Such do not generalize too much God's favors: they particularize. And naturally and properly (verses 3 and 4) the first item for praise is the redeeming love through the sacrifice of his son as the propitiation (i.e., satisfaction) for our sins, which has forgiven our iniquities, healed our diseases, and redeemed our lives from destruction. "Hallelujah! What a Savior!" Not that this is all done for us yet. No; only by faith can we reckon it as done. But God has begun the good work, the sacrifice for our sins was paid on Calvary, and shortly we shall be presented before the Father blameless and unreprovable, without any of our present mental, moral and physical diseases and weaknesses, and in the full possession of the new life and the new resurrection bodies.
Verses 6 to 10. Having expressed the sentiments and attitude of the saints, the prophet next turns to the people in general – the half-hearted Christians as well as the worldly – and declares (verse 6) that God is on the side of justice and makes the cause of the weak and oppressed ones his cause. He declares (verse 7) that this was fully illustrated in the laws which he promulgated through Moses and in his dealings with Israel, including their deliverance from the task-masters of Egypt. And all these show (verse 8) God's general goodness and sympathy and compassion.
Verse 9. Yet none must presume upon God's love and mercy, and trample upon his laws; for although slow to anger and plenteous in [R1402 : page 144] mercy, "He will not always chide [contend with the wayward] neither will he keep [i.e., retain or hold back] his anger forever."
Verse 10. What chastisements he has so far given are not to be esteemed as the full penalty for our sins. He has been holding back the full penalty in mercy according to his provision in Christ. So far "He hath not dealt with us according to [the just desert of] our sins, nor rewarded us according as our iniquities deserved" under his own law. But we must not suppose, therefore, that he will never execute that law which declares that death is the full penalty for full wilful sin. The Lord through the Apostle Peter declares this same truth, that thus far he has held back the full penalty, because willing that all should come to a full appreciation of the truth, and by acceptance of it be saved from the full penalty of wilful sin. – 2 Pet. 3:7-10; Acts 3:23; Heb. 10:26-30. [R1403 : page 144]
Verses 11 to 18. But the Lord, in thus threatening the wilfully wicked, does not wish to awaken dread in the hearts of those who do love him and seek to know and to do his will. Hence when these find that their lives are imperfect, much as they desired and endeavored to have them otherwise, they are not to be in fear of the "wrath" and "vengeance" which are to be let loose upon wilful sinners in due time. Ah, no! God considereth our frame; he knows our weakness, and as the Apostle declares, we shall be saved from wrath through Him (Christ, our Redeemer). Toward all such as love and reverence him, and who are in covenant relations with him, and hence under the blood of the new covenant, God's compassion is far beyond that of an earthly parent. As high as the heaven is above the earth, so great is his love for such, and as far as the east is from the west, he has removed their transgression – laying our sins upon his own spotless Lamb, our Redeemer, and imputing his purity to all who will accept it, as in due time this gift of love is testified to all. And not only does God's blessing rest upon these his "saints," but in some degree it follows even to their children.
Verses 19 to 21. Here prophetically the reference is to that great kingdom for which we pray, "Thy kingdom come." In it the angels (messengers) and ministers (servants) of God will fully carry out his great plan, his goodness to all, showing mercy unto thousands of those who love and obey him, and executing also the judgments written (destruction – not everlasting torments, the judgments which some have imagined, but which would be in violation of the things written) upon those who treasure up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath and perdition of ungodly men.
Verse 22. Then, with a clean universe, after the close of the Millennial age, all God's works in all places of his dominion will praise and honor him. And all who are in full accord with the great divine plan can even now in advance hail that grand, gracious time with joy and exclaim, "Bless the Lord, O my soul!" [R1403 : page 144]
LESSON VIII., MAY 22, DANIEL 1:8-21.
The scrap of history furnished us in this lesson teaches a most excellent lesson in favor of total abstinence from intoxicants. The immense injury that has come to the weak, fallen human family through the evil of drunkenness cannot be stated; and indeed it is so apparent to conscientious people that a statement would be needless. All who love their fellow-creatures as themselves will gladly deny themselves liberties which to others less strong would surely be injurious.
The following, clipped from the "National S.S. Teacher," well illustrates what we have sometimes stated, namely, that the word consecration is given only a limited meaning by the majority of Christians – that to these it means consecration to a self-imposed or sect-imposed work, rather than a full giving up of their all TO GOD, to seek, to learn and to do his will regardless of party, sect or self. The clipping reads: –
"By consecration is meant such devotion to any given line of Christian work as will secure oneness of aim and effort. It is fundamental to success. No S.S. teacher can hope to be a winner of souls without it. Pupils can easily perceive the difference between the teacher who is consecrated to his work and one who is not. After all it is the key to the situation. What we as teachers need above all things else is thorough consecration to our work. But let us remember that God alone can consecrate. We can dedicate ourselves to his work and then await his consecration. Have we taken the preliminary steps. I have in mind a teacher who was eminently successful in winning souls to Christ. Some envied her, others praised her and wondered at the secret of her success. It is all summed up in one word – consecration."
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During the Colporteurs' Meetings which followed the regular meetings of the recent Convention, some of the older and more experienced Colporteurs made the suggestion that hereafter all colporteurs be authorized to sell the MILLENNIAL DAWN series of books at Thirty-five cents per volume, or three volumes for One Dollar – explaining to any who might notice and inquire, that the books could be had at Twenty-five cents each if they chose to send to the Allegheny office; but that the Colporteurs are allowed to charge the ten cents to cover their additional expense connected with delivering the books. With the consent of the office several had tried the higher price plan and the results had been highly satisfactory: they had sold about as many as at Twenty-five cents.
The object of the suggestion on the part of those proposing the higher price was not money-getting, but a desire to forward the work. While they are able to meet their traveling and living expenses and a little more at twenty-five [R1405 : page 146] cents, they well know that many others cannot do so on account of being less successful salesmen, or of having encumbrances in the way of family duties and expenses. Indeed, the plan proposed is that all who can do so shall return to the Lord's treasury all that can be spared from their actual expenses, that it may assist in the general work of spreading the Truth, to which all of our lives are consecrated.
We requested all the Colporteurs present at the meeting to make a trial of the Thirty-five cent rate for one week, and then to report their success or failure. And the reports turned in confirm the view of the suggesters, that the additional ten cents will be no hindrance; but that people concede that a book of 350 pages on good paper is cheap at 35 cents – or over 1100 pages for $1.00. As a consequence we have decided on this change.
There are at present about forty Colporteurs, and we trust that the new price will soon double the number; for quite a number who started and were unable to fully meet expenses, and who got deeply in debt to the Tract Society at the twenty-five cent rate, will now be able to meet their expenses and perhaps a little more. Thus the cause of the Lord will, we trust, be prospered by the new arrangement. It is not the thought to attract worldly people into the work of selling Dawn. We desire only such as engage in the work as ministers of the gospel, and from the conviction that what they are presenting is the Truth, and in no other manner can they so fully and faithfully serve the Lord and his people. We do not know of one now in the colporteur work merely as a business: all are doing what they can as unto the Lord. We know of several who could earn nearly or quite a thousand dollars a year in other occupations, who gladly give their all for the Truth for the mere necessities of food and clothing; and one at present getting two thousand dollars a year is about to leave it and engage his time and talents in the Lord's service. He has already tried it and finds that he can make expenses, and seeks nothing more.
Single copies delivered by colporteurs, 35 cents. Three " " " " $1.00.
Single copies by mail from the office, 25 cents. Five (or multiples of five, 10, 20, 40, etc.) copies of any one volume by mail, post-paid to one address, each, . . . 15 " Five copies or more of any volume by express or freight at colporteur's charges, 12½ "
As a result of this arrangement we hope soon to hear of many ready and glad to give all their time to the work. The Master, the Chief Reaper, saith, "He that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto everlasting life."
[R1403 : page 147]
|VOL. XIII.||MAY 15, 1892.||NO. 10.|
"For if the ministry of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory; for that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect by reason of the glory that excelleth." – 2 Cor. 3:9,10.
The Apostle is here contrasting the two covenants – the law covenant, which ministered only condemnation to death to those under it; and the new covenant in Christ, which ministers righteousness, the imputed righteousness of Christ, or justification to all who by faith in Christ come under its gracious provisions. And while he points us to the superior glory of the new covenant, which glory is as yet only apprehended by faith, he reminds us of the glory of the old covenant, and calls attention to the typical character of that glory.
In referring to the law covenant as the ministration of death and as less glorious than the new covenant, it is not the Apostle's object to underrate the truly glorious character of that covenant; nor does his language, when properly understood, do so. Let the reader call to mind his noble defense of that covenant and of the righteous law upon which it was based, when he said, "The law is holy, and the commandment [to obey it, and to expect its reward of life for such obedience, is] holy and just and good." (Rom. 7:12.) There was nothing wrong with the holy, just and good law of God: it was a law "ordained unto life." (Verse 10.) Its object was to grant life to all its obedient subjects. And God's first covenant or promise of life on condition of obedience was sure to all the obedient. But nevertheless, says the Apostle, this law, though it was "ordained unto life" proved "to be unto death." (Verse 10.) Why? how is this? It is because of our inability, as a fallen race, to keep that law, no matter how sincerely and earnestly we endeavor to keep it. We have inherited from our fallen parents mental, moral and physical infirmities which incapacitate us from keeping that law, which, to a perfect man, would be easy and natural. All that we imperfect men and women can now do is to strive against the increasingly downward tendencies of the fallen nature and to press painfully forward toward that perfect standard of character which the law of God requires.
But even though we do thus strive against sin and press toward perfection, there is no promise of life for the striving. The covenant or promise of life is only for actual conformity, without the slightest deflection for a single instant, from the very dawn of existence and forever. This was the covenant made with Adam in Eden, and the very first small act of disobedience forfeited the covenanted blessing of life: and from that moment forward the dying man and his dying posterity were incapable in their dying condition of obeying that law. Hence that law which was "ordained unto life" (whose principles are not only worthy of life, but are absolutely necessary to life and happiness) proved, after the fall, to be "unto death," because no man was able to comply with its covenanted conditions of life. Then, [R1403 : page 148] as the result of sin, the negative side only of the covenant came into force: Because Adam (who was originally able to keep inviolate the law of God then inscribed in his nature) had forfeited the blessings affirmed on condition of obedience, he and the race represented in him came under its negative provision of death, the absence of life.
Since the whole race was thus involved in sin and brought under the negative provision of the first covenant, which provision was unto death, if God would ever again offer them life, it must be under some new covenant whose prescribed conditions man could fulfil. Such a covenant Israel, not discerning the philosophy of God's plan, thought they had. Theirs, however, was not a new covenant: it was the very same that was made with Adam in Eden – a promise of eternal life on condition of perfect and continuous obedience to God's perfect law. It was given to Israel on tables of stone; but it was given to Adam written on the fleshly tablet of the heart: in other words, his was a law-inscribed nature. Adam could have kept that law, but Israel could not; and its presentation to Israel on tables of stone, with the promise of life if they should keep it, was not with any expectation on God's part that they could keep it, though he knew they would try to do so, and many of them made commendable progress. It was merely to convince them that they could not do it, and thus to prepare them to accept the favor of life upon new conditions, which God afterward would provide – viz., the conditions of a new covenant. "The law was a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ."
The making of a new covenant with man was a legal impossibility while yet, under the negative provision of the first covenant, he was still condemned to death. He must be released [R1404 : page 148] from that condemnation before anything could be granted to him. Such a release, he in his completely bankrupt condition, and under the just sentence of death, was utterly unable to secure; and no man could by any means redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for his soul, because all were under the same condemnation. Thus we see that man's first probation ended when the old Edenic covenant passed away, leaving him under its condemnation to death. And since he could not be under condemnation and on probation at the same time, there must be both a legal release from the condemnation of the old covenant and the establishment of a new covenant before a new probation or trial could be instituted. The former was accomplished by the sacrificial death of Christ, our Redeemer; and the latter will be granted to the world in general in the Millennial age. But to a select few, the Church, it is granted in the present Gospel age. God devised and executed the wonderful plan for our deliverance: he sent his only begotten Son, who redeemed us from death by the sacrifice of himself – who "gave his flesh [his human existence] for the life of the world," and who was raised again – not as a man, because he had sacrificed his human nature for our redemption, but as a spirit being, of the divine nature, henceforth to be unto us a merciful high priest who, having redeemed us by his blood, might afterward by his life and teachings lead us back to harmony with God, and to the original likeness to him.
The release from condemnation having been thus provided for all who desire to accept it (for God will not force his favors upon any who do not appreciate or desire them), God now makes a new covenant with all who still love his law and desire to keep it. This new covenant is based still upon that same inflexible and gloriously perfect law whose integrity can never be impeached nor its force abated, but it contains a promise which exactly meets the conditions of our case. Having shown us that we cannot, in our fallen condition, fully obey his law, and that we are all condemned to death by it, but that provision has been made for our release from that condemnation and for a return to divine favor and life through Christ, God now covenants with all such who are at heart loyal to his law, and who are therefore trying to the best of their ability to keep it, to give them life on the simple condition of faith in Christ and continued loyalty to truth and righteousness.
Glorious covenant! how perfectly it fits our case. "For what the law [covenant] could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh [because [R1404 : page 149] of the infirmities of our flesh on account of sin], God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh [the human likeness], and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh [condemned the sin to an overthrow], that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. For they that are after the flesh [who have no ambition to keep the law of God, but simply try to please the flesh – the fallen, unregenerate nature] do mind [observe and follow] the things of the flesh; but they that are after the spirit [who desire and endeavor to cultivate in themselves the spirit of God], mind [observe and follow] the things of the spirit. To be [thus] carnally minded is death [Those so minded are still under condemnation – unjustified]; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." – Rom. 8:3-6.
While we are thus shown the blessed provision of the new covenant for the infirmities of our flesh, the fact is here made very clear that faith in Christ will profit nothing except to those who love God's law and who desire and endeavor to keep it, and who yet, realizing and acknowledging their short-comings, humbly claim the promised boon of life as the gift of God's bounty, through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Lord, whose righteousness, imputed to us by faith, makes up for our deficiency. Thanks be unto God, who giveth us this great victory over death and over the downward tendencies of our fallen nature, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
It will be observed that these two covenants are really one in substance and purpose; and that the only difference existing between them is in the special provision of the new covenant which releases man from the condemnation incurred under the old, and enables him to fulfil its righteous conditions by proxy (through Christ) in so far as he is unable to fulfil them actually and personally.
The old covenant required perfect obedience to the fullest extent, as our Lord explained it (See Matt. 5:21,22,27,28), but the new covenant makes allowance for all the slips occasioned by our imperfections and takes cognizance of our efforts to discern and follow its spirit – its general disposition – while Christ our Redeemer makes up for our deficiencies, our faith in him being counted to us for righteousness – for full obedience to the perfect law. And it was with reference to this difference that the Apostle wrote (2 Cor. 3:6): "God hath made us able ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter [the absolute, strict, personal conformity to every jot and tittle of the law, as required under the old covenant] killeth, but the spirit [the manifest disposition to obey the law, and the acceptance of the righteousness of Christ to supplement our deficiency – the conditions of the new covenant] giveth life."
This expression of the Apostle has been greatly abused by some who wish to have this understood as a general principle laid down by the Apostle for the interpretation of the Scriptures. Wishing to put various fanciful interpretations on the Word of God, different from its plain and obvious meaning, they call the former the spirit of the Word, while the real meaning of the Scriptures they thus characterize as "the letter which killeth." Very reckless, if not indeed deceitful, handling of the Word of God is this, and very far indeed from the Apostle's thought. Let the true sheep beware of all such false teachers who thus open wide the flood-gates of error and endeavor to swamp the Church in human philosophies and sophistries.
It was that old covenant of absolutely perfect obedience to the very letter – to every jot and tittle of the law of God – that killed every man who came under its conditions, except the one perfect man – "the man Christ Jesus." To him alone was it a ministration of life. Under it he stood approved of God, and his willing sacrifice of the life to which he was thus proved worthy was therefore accepted by God as our ransom-price. But the new covenant, which requires only that we have the spirit or disposition of Christ with reference to God and his law, giveth life: "Now the Lord is that spirit" (2 Cor. 3:17) – he is a manifestation or pattern to us of the spirit or disposition which we should have toward God's law. We should love it as he loved it (Psa. 119:97); we should study and endeavor to conform to it as he did; and we should glory in it and by word and example [R1404 : page 150] teach it to others as he did. And in whatever heart this spirit of the Lord dwells together with the same trustful faith which he manifested in Jehovah's covenants, there indeed is liberty from the condemnation of the old covenant under which all the rest of the race still rest through Adam's transgression.
Such is our favored condition, beloved household of faith. But let us observe particularly the glory of this divine covenant. When the old covenant was given to Israel, written on tables of stone, there were great manifestations of supernatural glory: A cloud enveloped the mountain where the presence of God was manifested; and there were thunderings and lightenings and the voice of a trumpet, and the mountain quaked. – Exod. 19.
And when Moses came down from the mountain the skin of his face shone so that Israel could not behold him without a veil between. Such was the glory of that first covenant, which proved to be only a ministration of death. But the Apostle gives us to understand that that glory was only a typical representation of the greater glory of the new covenant – the glory that excelleth. That glory we may now behold by faith; but let us not, like Israel, put a vail before it, so that we cannot see it; for we all with open (unveiled) faces may behold in the mirror of God's Word the glory of the Lord as revealed in this new covenant. And as we thus behold his glory – the glory of his majesty and wisdom and power and love and grace – we ourselves shall be changed, transformed, into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. – Verse 18.
The following letter, addressed to a certain journal which sets before its readers a medley of conflicting doctrines, is well worthy of notice; and the same remarks would apply to many more which evidently are not called of God to any such service. Our Lord said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31,32). And we have no commission to set before the household of faith anything which we do not believe to be truth. "If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for the battle?" The letter is as follows: –
"Dear Brother – The enclosed I clipped recently from your journal. Gladly would I help spread the truth of God, gladly shed light upon the path of those who are in darkness; but really, my brother, it seems to me your readers would hardly know what to believe, so varied are the theories set before them. And I ask you in all candor, Is such an array of doctrine conducive to stability of faith, or to leading the unsettled into the truth? Is it not rather calculated to drive them farther into skepticism and doubt, until they make final shipwreck amid the breakers of error or upon the rocks of infidelity? My own experience leads me to think it is. Conflicting theories, boldly advocated, came near driving me to doubt everything; but grace triumphed and I was led to the rock foundation of harmony which does exist in the Word of God despite the efforts of men, whether put forth with evil or good intentions, to cause the world to think otherwise.
"I was much impressed with an article in the first number sent me, with the following title, 'What do we Believe?' You declared yourself to be in the position of Paul, only on a very different subject, when he partly believed. In short, you acknowledged yourself 'unsettled on a good many points.' You say 'you are just foolish enough to investigate, and for that reason are at present a little agitated, but if there is a God in Israel, you believe you will be rooted and grounded in the faith.' Surely there is a God in Israel, and may he grant you to be rooted and grounded in the truth; for he has declared by the mouth of the great apostle that he 'hath from the beginning chosen us to salvation [R1407 : page 150] through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth,' thereby showing that belief of the truth is a necessary qualification for salvation. He then goes on, by the mouth of the same apostle, to exhort the Thessalonians – and he exhorts us as well – to 'stand fast and hold the traditions which they had been taught, whether by word (of the blessed Master) or our epistle.'
"I know there are many in these days who think it of little consequence what one believes, [R1407 : page 151] if he is only sincere. It seems to me the first words of Paul above quoted would dispel that delusion of the adversary, and the second quotation should cause every one to see to it that the traditions they hold were given of God and not of men. We have a sure foundation given in the Word of God, upon which every doctrine must rest if it be of him, that of 'the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone.' I would I might see you settled in the truth, and your little sheet advocating the same, instead of printing the medley of conflicting theories it now does. It is a positive fact they cannot all be truth; some of them must be errors, and we know, according to the Word, that the teaching of error overthrew the faith of some in Paul's day. Is it likely to do any different now?
"Now, my brother, in Christian love, but also in candor, I can only say I fear it is not for the good of the cause of God to present matters thus. I wish you could look at it in a different light, then study the Word by the aid of the holy Spirit to lead you into the truth, and then use printer's ink, and writer's ink, for its dissemination. Then bear in mind that no scripture is to be taken by itself: that spiritual things are to be compared with spiritual. I pray you to be settled in the truth. Could I be of any service in the accomplishment of this object, I would be glad to render aid, but I pray God to lead you and that you may be willing to be led of him. Yours in the bonds of faith in Christ,
"I would not choose the garden fair
Which lieth full in view,
All square and trim with faultless beds
Of scarlet edged with blue.
I love to wander unobserved
Through many a leafy nook,
And where the fragrant woodbine path
Winds downward to the brook,
With flowers in ambush, shy and sweet,
Awaiting my returning feet.
"Old ocean, too, would lose her charm
Could I her depths explore,
Or with a powerful telescope
Discern her farther shore.
I love the boundless mystery,
The tireless ebb and flow,
I love the wondrous history
That hideth deep below:
If all her secrets she should tell
Old ocean would not please me well.
"My friends were less my friends, I trow,
If I could once suppose
They had no yearnings high and strong
They ne'er to me disclose.
Kind, truthful tones of trust (regard
Implied, yet not expressed)
We hold the longest in our hearts,
And value most and best;
For, where the floods are swift and great,
The waters sometimes will abate.
"And shall I love thee less, my God,
Because in thee I find
A majesty outstripping far
The finite human mind?
Nay, rather, while for all thy grace
I bless thee and adore,
Because thy name is 'Wonderful,'
I praise thee even more.
This word within my heart I keep –
'Thy judgments are a mighty deep.'"
"James, a servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting." – James 1:1.
It will be observed by the careful reader that this epistle, unlike any of the other apostolic epistles, is addressed, not to the Church, the sanctified in Christ Jesus, but to the twelve tribes of Israel scattered abroad. And from the incentive to patience held out in Chapter 5:8,9 – viz., that "the presence [Greek, parousia] of the Lord has approached," and "Behold, the Judge is standing before the door" – we see that its special application is to the present day, the day of the Lord's presence as judge. Since he did not come as judge at his first advent (John 12:47), the reference is manifestly to his second advent.
Notice too, that these are recognized by the [R1405 : page 152] apostle as brethren of the household of faith. (1:2,3.) So while this epistle is addressed to the twelve tribes scattered abroad, it is thus restricted to those who are also of the household of faith, who still have faith in the prophecies and who are getting their eyes open to see in Jesus the promised Messiah and Deliverer. We recognize it therefore, as a special message to those of scattered Israel in this day of the Lord's presence, from whom blindness is being and will be turned away, and who are coming to recognize the Lord Jesus as the promised Messiah.
This thought calls to mind the words of the prophet Isaiah: "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 for all her sins." (Chap. 40:1,2 – see margin.) We have seen that Israel's double of chastisement was fully accomplished in the year 1878. (See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., page 232.) And since that time we have also seen a marked beginning and a gradual progress of the turning away of blindness from fleshly Israel. How characteristic it is of the Lord, that he should have a word of recognition and comfort recorded for those chastened and returning ones at this time, whom he is now ready to recognize by the old familiar term, "My people!"
Observe now the character of the epistle. First of all it recognizes the fact of Israel's great trials* of faith and patience as now experienced in the special persecutions and hardships which, though they regard them as calamities and with fearful forebodings of greater trouble, are really working together for good to them in driving many of them back to the land of promise and preparing them for the blessings God is shortly to bring to them. And then it bids them rejoice even on these tribulations, and exhorts to patience, faith and stability of character and to dependence in God for wisdom – for further enlightenment concerning his plan, which he assures them they shall have if they ask in faith. – Chap. 1:1-8.
Verses 9-11 strike first thing at their prominent national greed for gain, exhorting them to learn to rejoice in those principles of righteousness which are destined to equalize the conditions of men, by humbling the rich and mighty and exalting the meek and humble; and showing how the rich man, as such, must pass away in the great leveling process of this day of the Lord.
Verses 12-15 trace the inevitable course of unrighteousness – how that lust, undue desire of any kind, brings forth sin, and sin when finished brings forth death. Therefore, "Blessed is the man that endureth trial [who does not follow the course of the depraved desires]; for when he is tried [i.e., when his trial is over], he will receive the crown of life which the Lord hath promised to them that love him" – the everlasting life provided for all mankind who will accept it on God's conditions.
Verses 16-18 teach that though God is permitting persecution and trial to come upon his ancient people and will make them work together for good to them, yet they must not err in attributing these things to God. (Verses 16,13.) Only the good gifts come from God: such, for instance, as the truth whereby you are now begotten; for know ye not that Israel is to be a kind of first fruits unto God of his creatures? Mark the expression a kind of first fruits. The very first fruit of God's plan is the glorified Christ (Rev. 14:4), and Israel is not first in this sense, but is to be the first-fruits unto God of the nations.
Verses 19-25 are most appropriate words of counsel in view of these things: "Wherefore, my beloved brethren [of Israel, and of the household of faith], let every man [of you] be swift to hear [the truth of God], slow to speak, [his own opinions, and] slow to wrath [Let him not waste his time in wrathful denunciations, etc., against the persecuting powers; but in the midst of it all let him humbly and thankfully recognize the hand of Providence which is about to work out such a deliverance as Israel never knew before – Jer. 16:14,15]; for man's anger does not work out God's righteousness."
"Therefore, discarding all impurity and overflowing malice, embrace with meekness the implanted [R1405 : page 153] word which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves; for if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass; for he beholdeth himself and goeth his way and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he, being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."
Verses 26 and 27 show the kind of character and disposition which pure religion or piety must necessarily manifest, viz., a character which refuses to be contaminated by worldly ideas and practices, and which takes delight in doing good. And if any man have not such a disposition, and the unbridled use of his tongue manifests the very reverse, a profession of piety on his part is vain and a mere self-deception.
CHAPTER II. Verses 1-9 counsel humility and condescension to men of low estate rather than preferment of the rich, which respect to persons is a violation of that commandment of the law, to love our neighbors as ourselves. Verse 5 points to the fact of God's choice of some of the poor of this world to be exalted as heirs of the Millennial Kingdom. [R1406 : page 153]
Verses 10-13 counsel charity and leniency in any judgment of fellow-men, in consideration of the weakness common to all, showing that if they are going to exact perfection of their fellows, that is, if they are going to judge them by the strict law of God, they also will be condemned under the same law.
Verses 14-26 show that works of righteousness must follow a true faith, that they are inseparably linked, and that a faith which does not so manifest itself is dead.
CHAPTER III. shows that as not many are qualified to be teachers, or expounders of divine truth, and in view of the responsibility of such to God, none should undertake it who are not so qualified of God. "Do not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that [by so doing] we shall receive a severer judgment [trial]." The position of a public teacher or expounder of divine truth, while it is one of privilege, is one that must be held with meekness and sobriety, and when faithfully filled involves both labor and sacrifice. But if one assumes to become a teacher and permits his tongue to run at random according to his own imperfect will instead of the will of God, who can tell the extent of damage it may do in overthrowing the faith of many and in establishing error and beclouding the truth? But (verses 13-16) "Is any one wise and endued with knowledge among you, let him by honorable conduct show his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This [kind of] wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish; for where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom from above is indeed first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easily persuaded, full of mercy and of good fruits, without partiality, without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who practice peace."
CHAPTER V. Verses 1-6 show that great distress and trouble shall come upon the wealthy classes of the world who have long held a monopoly of earthly blessings. Verses 7-9 proclaim the great Judge at the door – "The presence of the Lord has approached and behold, the Judge standeth before the door" and his wrath is about to be revealed against all evil doers. But ye, brethren, who are on the Lord's side, stablish your hearts and be patient in the midst of the great trial which shall culminate in the full establishment of the kingdom of God, under which you, as a first fruit unto God of the nations, shall be first blessed. Then follow the special counsels of verses 10-20 encouraging to patient endurance and cheerfulness, sobriety of conduct, trust in the Lord, and patience and helpfulness toward stumbling or erring brethren, etc.
Verse 14 also counsels their looking to the Lord for the healing of physical infirmities, and promises that the prayer of faith shall save the sick. This promise, we believe, has its [R1406 : page 154] special application in the time indicated by verse 9 – when the Judge has arrived and the Times of Restitution have begun.
In no other time, we believe, could this promise have had full application; for had the promise been intended to apply to the whole Gospel age, and had it been verified to all who in faith claimed it, many faithful souls of the past would still be living. It would signify nothing short of full restitution and everlasting life, which cannot, according to God's plan, be granted to any until the appointed "Times of Restitution" have come. For God to make such an engagement would be to frustrate his own plans. At the time, therefore, when this message is due to Israel, and when they shall begin to recognize it, we believe that this promise may be fully claimed, and that any who ask in faith may have life and health continually renewed and need never die – the restitution time having come and the restitution work being thus begun in them. In answer to the prayer of faith together with humble confession of sin, sickness will be continually rebuked throughout the Millennial age, and health and life will be granted to all the willing and obedient.
But in order to such faith, a knowledge of the facts upon which the promise is conditioned is necessary. While we see that death still reigns, so that not one of the generations past has escaped or eluded its grasp to witness the truth of this promise to the present generation, unless we can see some qualification which limits it to some particular time, either present or future, we cannot intelligently claim the promise. And many who have claimed it before the appointed time have been greatly disappointed. We think now of two most remarkable instances of misplaced faith on this subject. One was a dear young brother in a neighboring city, fully consecrated to the Lord and leading an exemplary life, who was prostrated with consumption. He was visited by friends who encouraged him to claim this promise, which he did, refusing medical aid, and trusting to miraculous healing. But he died; and his last whisper was, "Mother, I will soon be well. God is bringing me down so low only to manifest his power in raising me up." A moment more, and all was over; and the faith of many went out with that young life.
Another instance was that of the wife of a brother from whom we heard the following circumstance related. The lady was an amiable and faithful Christian woman; she trusted in this promise, and several of her friends prayed with her and trusted for her recovery; a large circle of those who preach faith-healing were interested in the case, and her husband waited anxiously for the turning point toward health. But she died; and, said her husband to the writer, I for a time lost all faith in the Bible. But afterward, said he, mastering my feelings, I said to myself, Perhaps the old Book may be true after all, if we only knew how to read it. And since then God has been gradually leading him into the truth concerning his plan.
These instances, related to us with an inquiry for light on the subject, led to this re-examination of the epistle of James with the above conclusions. When we thus locate the promise in the appointed time, all is plain. And while the epistle, as a whole, is addressed specially to scattered and now returning Israel, which is to be a first fruit of the nations, and which in the near future will greatly need its timely counsel and encouragement, its wise and helpful counsels, warnings and promises have a general application to all whose hope, in common with the hope of fleshly Israel, is in the restitution to human perfection and all its attendant blessings. And its lessons, though recorded specially for the restitution class, are profitable to the Church as well.
When Israel comes to an understanding of the plan of God, with the systematic order of its times and seasons, they will see that the restitution time has actually come and that they may claim its precious promises at once. And so may all others who intelligently and heartily accept the truth, except those who appreciate the still higher privilege of presenting their bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, and who, in compliance with this covenant, cheerfully sacrifice the human nature even unto death, that in due time they may receive the divine nature and joint-heirship with Christ in his kingdom.
If any one suppose that the Jews are not a power in Europe even outside of the money market, he is mistaken. In England, though they number only one in eight hundred of the population, Jews recently occupied eight seats in the House of Commons. Though only two per cent. of the population of Germany, they hold in the universities seventy professors' chairs. And of the twenty-three Liberal and Progressive journals in Berlin, all but three are directly or indirectly under Jewish control. There are only 40,000 Jews in Italy, but eight of them are members of the Chamber of Deputies. In France, out of a population of 37,000,000, only 60,000 are Jews; yet, says the London "Spectator," "The Jews sit in the Senate, three in the Chamber, four in the Council of State, and two in the Supreme Council of Public Education. One Cabinet minister, M. David Raynold, is a Jew, and so are no less than ten chiefs of ministerial departments, who are probably more powerful than ministers. Three Prefects are Jews, seven Sub-Prefects, and four Inspectors General of Education. The same community furnishes two Generals of Division, three Generals of Brigade, four Colonels, one Judge of the Court of Cassation (the President) and ten Provincial Judges."– Presbyterian Banner.
The change in the position of the Jew within the last half century is one of most remarkable character. Fifty years ago the Jew was inert and imbecile: now he exercises a greater power than in the days of David and Solomon. The Jews to-day influence more people, control more bullion, and exercise more legislative power than they did when they had their temple, their land, and their sceptre. They have been stationary for eighteen centuries, and hunted into obscurity: to-day they attract wider attention than ever before in their history. Out of twelve hundred students of law in Berlin, six hundred were Jews. The Berlin and other Councils are ruled by a Jewish majority, and all offices are in the gifts of Jews. The German tradesman sinks to a secondary position alongside his Jew competitor, the best squares are filled with Jew shops, the best estates have passed into their hands. In Germany they have ousted the best families from their patrimonial possessions. This is true of Holland also. The Jew is the world's chief banker to-day. Almost the whole of the liberal press of Germany is in their hands. The two leading papers of Rome were, and possibly still are, edited by Jews. The power of the Jewish press of the continent of Europe is very great in matters political, scientific, and theological. ...As the Jew has entered the civilization of the age and become a part of it, Rabbinical Judaism has necessarily undergone considerable modification. Amongst multitudes of them in Germany, the hope of a Messiah has totally disappeared. A spirit of skepticism has laid hold of the younger generation, so that conviction has disappeared....All idealism is gone, and nothing is considered to be useful and worthy of effort but that which promises material advantage – wealth, honor, power and enjoyment. Of two thousand shops kept by Jews in the city of Paris, not over a hundred are closed on Saturday. Of the seventy thousand Jews in New York City not over twenty-five hundred are attached to the synagogue.– Missionary Herald.
One of the most remarkable facts of the present age is the eagerness with which the New Testament is being read and studied among the Jews. They are not only reading the book, each in the vernacular of the country in which he resides, but many of their number are studying it in Hebrew. It is reported that the two principle Hebrew versions of the work have had circulations exceeding that accorded to the most noted books of fiction, and a complete Hebrew commentary on the New Testament is one of the latest things to be announced as in course of publication at Leipsic. Nor is this the only Christian literature that has found ready acceptance with them. Such works as Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" and Milton's "Paradise Lost" have been translated into the same old language and meet with ready sale.
All this proves that the Hebrew is far from being the dead language most folks suppose it to be. The fact is, the study of it has been revived among the Jews in the last few years, not so much in this country as in the Old World, and it is considered probable that as many human beings now speak it, either purely or in some jargon form, as spoke it at the time of the Exodus, when the Jews are supposed to have first asserted a claim to nationality. Furthermore, it may be stated as probable that the number of Jews who are reading the New Testament in Hebrew exceeds that of the Christians who are studying the Old Testament in the [R1407 : page 156] same language. The Jew is not necessarily reading the New Testament with intent to become [R1408 : page 156] a Christian. He does so rather because the story is an important one in the history of the race, even though the divine origin of Christ may not be conceded by him. And, in fact, there is not a vast amount of difference between many of the reformed Jews and some Unitarians in matters of faith, though it may be remarked that the orthodox Hebrews are the most noted for containing among their numbers men who read the New Testament.
Another interesting point in this connection is the fact that not a few students are now disposed to believe that the Hebrew is the parent of a large part of the Saxon, German and other tongues which belong to the same sub-family of languages as they do. The work by Dr. Rodosi, recently published, in which many derivations from that to them are traced, is deserving of more attention than has yet been accorded to it, being really a remarkable production, though not the only effort made to prove a connection of lineage between the old and the comparatively new. Probably the one thing which chiefly stands in the way of accepting the theory is the fact that it is a discarded one. Up to about two centuries ago it was generally believed that the Hebrew was the parent of all other languages, and the revulsion came when it was discovered that the Latin, Greek, and most other European tongues have a close affinity with the Sanscrit, which was the language of the people who invaded India perhaps not far from the time of the Jewish exodus from Egypt. It is well known to be more difficult to obtain assent to a truth which has been once discarded because mixed with much that is false than if it had not been in such bad company. Yet it may be possible to admit a close connection without conceding all that was unwisely claimed when literary men knew far less than they do now.
There can be no doubt that the Jews are rising to a prominence to which they as a people were strangers through many centuries. They are proving their right to it in commerce, science, literature and art, and now the eyes of the whole world are turned upon them as a consequence of the persecution in Russia. It is at least in harmony with this better recognition by other peoples that they should study the history of the Christian religion as closely interwoven with their own. Hence they do well to read the New Testament, and read it, too, in the language of their forefathers.– Chicago Tribune.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – At one of our recent meetings I mentioned the subject of contributing to the "Home and Foreign Missionary Fund." Although the suggestion appeared in the Nov. '91 TOWER, I had not heard a word from any of the brethren, and was greatly surprised to find so much indifference manifested. It was not until Brother A__________ mentioned the subject, and wanted an explanation, that I thought it was time to bring the matter before the meeting, which accordingly I did. There were but ten present. All, however, except one brother who has no income whatever, have promised to give something. It was suggested, instead of each individual member sending his name and the amount contributed by him, to have but one general fund, and to make it a contribution from the Church at Baltimore; to which all agreed, the amount ranging from five to twenty-five cents per week. I have not been able to see all our members, and so cannot state definitely what the total amount will be. I think, however, it will aggregate fifty or seventy-five dollars. I wish it were more.
[If this union plan seems to suit you better than the individual one, we trust, nevertheless, that the names of all contributors may be sent, that they may appear upon the Tract Society records. We like to know all the dear sheep personally as well as by groups.
In this connection we take pleasure in telling the friends that the apostolic plan of laying by weekly according as the Lord hath prospered them (1 Cor. 16) is proving to be a great [R1410 : page 156] blessing to the givers (who write us of their joy), as well as in forwarding the general spread of the Truth to others. – MRS. R., Secretary.]
From early childhood I had been taught to address my petitions to God the Father, for Jesus sake. In fact, it is the general custom, I believe, of the nominal church to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus. Last night, however, [R1410 : page 157] at the house of Brother Davis, a lady friend who was present made a very strong plea, showing that our prayers ought to be addressed to Jesus; that in honoring him we honor the Father; and that the Father is well pleased when we go to Jesus in prayer. Furthermore, he is our head, and we, as members of his body, are dependent upon him for our life, and all power is given unto him in heaven and in earth. He is also our ambassador, and in approaching the throne we ought to lay our petitions before Jesus – just as now, should we have important business with the Queen of England, we would not think of dealing directly, but would communicate through our representative abroad.
I was very much impressed with her remarks. On my return home my heart went to Jesus in prayer; language flowed freely and naturally, and I felt a nearness of his presence which I never experienced before. I believe it is right, and that we are by no means dishonoring the Father, but on the contrary are honoring him so much the more by honoring the Son. If I am wrong, dear brother, my earnest prayer is that I may be set right.
Yours in the Redeemer,
It is undoubtedly proper enough for us to address petitions to our Redeemer and Advocate, who loved us and gave himself for us. He is still interested in us – still loves us. He is still the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, and we are his sheep. He is still our faithful High Priest, who can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities and who is ready still to succor them that are tempted. And although we are nowhere instructed to make petitions to him, it evidently could not be improper so to do; for such a course is nowhere prohibited, and the disciples worshiped him. – Matt. 28:9,17.
However, it would be a serious error to suppose that we ought to address our petitions to our Lord Jesus and not to the Father – "For the Father himself loveth you" [who are in Christ]. And it is proper to remember that every good and perfect gift cometh from the Father. All things [blessings] are of the Father, and are by the Son. (1 Cor. 8:6.) Jehovah is the fountain of our blessings, and our Lord Jesus is the channel through which they reach us. "We know that God heareth not sinners" (John 9:31); and consequently, we, who by nature were sinners even as others, could have no audience with Jehovah until justified by faith in the sin-offering, made on our behalf, once for all, in the offering of the body of Jesus, our Lord. As he declared, "No man cometh unto the Father but by me." But now, since we do accept of our Lord's sacrifice, and realize it as the price of our justification, we have boldness to enter into the Most Holy [into communion with God] by the blood of Jesus, and "draw nigh with cleansed hearts and with full assurance of faith," realizing that "we are accepted in the Beloved."
Our Lord Jesus not only prayed to the Father himself, but instructed his followers as to the general style of their petitions, saying, "After this manner pray ye – Our Father which art in heaven," etc. And over and over again our Lord instructs us to ask of the Father in his name. (John 14:13,14; 15:16; 16:23,24,26.) In his name means more than merely by his authority; and it means more than the formal closing of a prayer with the words, "For Christ's sake." It means that the petitioner coming to the Father must realize his own actual unworthiness to be received at the throne of the heavenly grace, or to have his petition regarded and answered; and that therefore he presents it in the name and merit of Christ, his Ransomer – by faith accepting a share in the justifying merit of the great sin-offering which he made once for all.
Adam had access to and communion with God, the Father, when he was perfect – before he sinned and fell under divine condemnation. As many of the redeemed race as shall accept of the grace of God to be extended to all through Christ shall, when perfected again, have back this communion and all that was lost. And we who in the present age are justified by faith in his blood – in his sacrifice for our sins – have now this communion – only, so long as we are not actually perfect, it must always be exercised through our Mediator; and hence to hold communion, we must recognize not only the Mediator, but the ransom which he gave for all, by which we are made acceptable to the Father, in him.
LESSON IX., MAY 29, DANIEL 2:36-49.
Nebuchadnezzar's deeply significant and prophetic dream and the divinely inspired interpretation of it by the prophet Daniel, as recorded in this lesson, are worthy of the careful study of every earnest Christian who would follow the Apostle's injunction to take heed to the sure word of prophecy which shineth as a light in a dark place until the day dawn. (2 Pet. 1:19.) The reader is referred to MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I., page 248 for an elucidation of this prophecy.
May all the truly consecrated indeed see and appreciate their privilege of being part of that kingdom symbolized by the stone which in due time is to destroy and displace all the other kingdoms and fill the whole earth with its glory and its blessings of righteousness and peace.
In the midst of the unsettled and unsatisfactory conditions of the past and the present, while the groaning creation waits for the establishment of God's kingdom in the earth, how comforting to the hearts of them that believe are the words of the golden text – "All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." (Heb. 4:13.) In far-seeing wisdom God has permitted all the present disorders, yet, in the end, even the wrath of man shall praise him and the remainder he restrains. (Psa. 76:10.) See Vol. I., Chap. vii., "The Permission of Evil and its Relation to God's Plan." [R1408 : page 158]
LESSON X., JUNE 5, DANIEL 3:13-25.
The familiar story of this lesson is one full of instruction to the thoughtful, as viewed both in its historic and in its prophetic light. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had set up an image, and had commanded all his subjects, including Israel, the Lord's people, to bow down to it in idolatrous worship. And any refusal thus to acknowledge his supreme authority, even in matters of conscience, was made a treasonable offence, punishable with death, in the midst of a fiery furnace.
Three Hebrews of the captivity, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, refused to obey the king in this instance, where such obedience would necessitate disloyalty to God. In their faithfulness to God, these three men preferred a dreadful death – should God permit them thus to die – rather than the alternative of disloyalty to the King of kings, whose command to Israel was, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Yet they confidently expressed their faith in God's ability, and their belief, in view of his promises, in his willingness to deliver them. (Verse 17.) Nevertheless, no matter what course he should see fit to take, they were fully determined to be true to God.
Thus they proved themselves "Israelites indeed," and in consequence of their faithfulness the promise of the Lord, made to Israel as a people, and sure to them so long as they kept their covenant with God, was verified, even though it required a miracle to accomplish it. The promise reads – "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: [This was wonderfully verified to the whole nation when in faith they obeyed the Lord's command and passed through the Red Sea and then over Jordan.] When thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." Doubtless this promise of deliverance from the power of the fire would have been verified to all the Israelites in Babylon, as well as to the three mentioned, had all, like them, proved their loyalty and faithfulness to God. God is faithful to all his promises, and blessed are all they that put their trust in him; for only the faithful can claim a share in his promises.
It would be a mistake, however, for all people to claim and appropriate literally these promises which the Lord made literally to fleshly Israel only, as his peculiar and covenant people. God's remarkable dealings with Israel – his care, his guidance, his discipline and chastisements when they were disobedient and unfaithful, and his wonderful deliverances of them when loyal and obedient, as well as his instruction and training of them – were typical of his course with the whole world during the Millennial age; but in the present time no such [R1408 : page 159] promises belong to the world. Nor do they belong to Christians except as in a symbolic sense applied to them as new creatures in Christ, during this Gospel age.
On the strength of these promises of temporal deliverance, no Christian, and certainly none of the world, can claim general exemption or deliverance from present calamities, though God does sometimes deliver them. God, who promised to defend Israel both nationally and individually whilst obedient, has never promised to defend so-called Christian nations against their national enemies, nor Christian communities nor individuals against persecution for conscience' sake by fire or sword, nor from calamities of various sorts, but on the contrary forewarns us, "They shall despitefully use you and persecute you." "Yea, and whoever will live Godly in this present time (the Gospel age) shall suffer persecution." Yet as an offset God has given us spiritual advantages and "exceeding great and precious promises," much more valuable than length of days under present conditions and deliverance from present persecutions. And we have his blessed assurance that all the temporal evils which are permitted to befall us shall work together for our good, so long as we remain loyal and faithful to God – "work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
To be loyal and true to God in these days requires as much courage and true heroism as was necessary in the days of gross idolatry. True, in civilized nations there is now no compulsion to worship images; but, nevertheless, there are idols of another sort just as potent in their influence upon the public mind, and Christians (Spiritual Israel) as well as all others are called upon to do homage to these idols – the work of men's hands. We refer to the various creeds of Christendom, the traditions which men have set up to intercept the worship of the true and living God in whose Word alone is life and peace.
Few are the faithful "Israelites indeed" who boldly stem the tide of opposition and declare themselves fully on the Lord's side by fearlessly discarding the traditions of men and daring to believe and teach the Word of God [R1409 : page 159] to the contrary. The many prefer the favor of men to the favor of God, and are quite willing to prove their disloyalty to God in order to obtain it. Rejecting the testimony of his Word, they blindly assent to the idols of human tradition and bow down to and serve them. But the devotion and zeal of the loyal and true are not unnoticed, and will not fail of their reward in due time, even though some such may yet be called upon to walk through the fiery furnace of affliction to prove their devotion to God in not bowing down with the majority.
"When through fiery trials their pathway shall lie,
His grace all-sufficient shall be their supply.
The flames shall not hurt them – God only designs
Their dross to consume and their gold to refine."
Not only have there been in the past such trials of faith and loyalty, but there are also at the present time; and in some respects a still more fiery trial yet awaits God's consecrated ones, as we understand the Scriptures, and as the signs of the times read in the light of the Bible clearly attest.
Of this indication, mention has already been made. The time is fast approaching when the religious liberty now enjoyed will be greatly restricted and when, as a consequence, the present work of disseminating the truth will be interfered with by the strong hand of combined civil and ecclesiastical power. And therefore, in view of such interference, we are forewarned by the Lord that "the night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4); and by the Prophet Isaiah (21:12) that "the morning cometh, and also the night." And those who properly heed the warning will let it have its designed effect of increasing their diligence in the use of present opportunities.
That the persecuting power which is thus to interfere with and cut short the opportunities of the consecrated, to spread the truth, is to arise from the allied powers of Christendom, or more particularly from allied Protestantism under the direction and control of the spirit of the Papacy, is clearly indicated in the symbolic prophecy of Revelation 13th chapter, under the figures of the "Beast" and his "Image." Those of our readers whose file of TOWERS extends back to January, 1882 (we have no more), will find the teaching of Rev. 13th therein set forth. There we showed that the "Beast" which was to command and receive the homage of the world for 1260 years is the great Papal System; and the "Image of the Beast," subsequently set up, after the "Beast" had been largely shorn of its power, is the great Evangelical Alliance of so-called Protestant denominations.
The image or likeness of this organization to the "Beast" consists in its doctrines and in its general policy. And although the likeness is not yet complete, the Revelator, in verse 15, indicates that the persecuting power will ere long complete this, and that the order will go forth practically that all who will not worship (reverence) either the Papal "Beast" or the Protestant "Image" shall be killed, although the killing is not necessarily to be understood as physical: it may be in some instances, though more probably it will be killing in a social [R1409 : page 160] sense – cutting off their influence, their name, etc., and allowing them no standing or liberty as Christians.
The thoughtful observer of current events in ecclesiastical circles may readily note the trend of events in this direction. The ghost of the future power of this great Image is already filling the minds of scheming ecclesiastics of all the denominations of so-called Christendom, as their numerous utterances from pulpit and press clearly show. But let the loyal and faithful few be fully determined within themselves to be firm and uncompromising in their zeal for God and the truth, assured that, even though they may be called upon to go through a furnace of affliction, God will be with them in the midst of the fiery trial, and, as spiritual new creatures in Christ, they shall not be hurt – but blest by the Master's presence and communion. [R1409 : page 160]
LESSON XI., JUNE 12, DANIEL 6:19-28.
The teaching of this lesson is the same as that of the preceding lesson. Because of his faith and loyalty to God Daniel was delivered, according to the Lord's covenant of blessing and protection to Israel as long as they were loyal and obedient. See Deut. 28:1-14 and Isa. 43:1,2.
And yet, notwithstanding all the promises of protection and defence to Israel, both as a nation and as individuals, so long as they continued loyal and obedient, the Apostle Paul reminds us of the fact that God permitted some of them to prove their loyalty and faithfulness by willingly enduring great persecutions, even unto death. He says they had trials of cruel mockings and scourgings and of bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth; and they were tortured, not accepting deliverance [on ignoble terms which would necessitate disloyalty to God]. – Heb. 11.
But why did they endure all these things, even in the face of an apparent failure of God's promises for their protection? Was it because of any direct promise of God that such faithfulness, even unto death, should receive a special reward in the resurrection? No; we know of no such promise in the Law or the Prophets, although the Apostle (Heb. 11:35) says they did it in hope of a "better resurrection."
What ground was there for such hope? We answer that it was a fair inference based upon their knowledge of the character of God and his promises to Israel. With the nobility and grandeur of a fixed purpose they said, "We will be loyal and true to God at any peril and at any cost; and if, as we know, God appreciates faithfulness at small cost, much more will he appreciate it when manifested under the severest tests. And such faithfulness will not fail of special recognition in the resurrection, if not before." Such was their love for God that they longed for the fullest possible manifestation of his love and favor in return when the full trial of their faith and patience should prove their worthiness.
In the clearer light of the Gospel dispensation, and especially of this day of the Lord, we see the blessed reward that awaits those ancient worthies who shall be made princes in all the earth during the Millennial reign of Christ (Psa. 45:16 – See also MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I., Chap. xiv.); whose probation being ended, they may from the dawn of their new existence – in the resurrection – be perfect men and exalted to power and great honor and glory. Such was God's purpose towards them in permitting them thus to suffer that he might exalt them in due time. Indeed, they shall shine as the stars forever. (Dan. 12:3.) These righteous ones shall be held in everlasting remembrance among the restored human race as noble examples worthy of all honor and imitation. – Psa. 112:6.
Evidently Daniel, as well as the three Hebrews of our last lesson, believed that God was able and also willing to deliver them according to his covenant of favor to Israel, if he saw fit; but, nevertheless, they believed that if he should not grant them a present deliverance, he would, in his own good time and way, grant them a still more glorious deliverance and reward of faithfulness. See Dan. 6:10 and 3:16-18. page 160