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|VOL. XIV.||MARCH 1, 1893.||NO. 5.|
"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." – 2 Cor. 3:18.
To be fully transformed into a likeness of character to our heavenly Father should be the constant effort of every true child of God. It is not enough that we gain a knowledge of his plan and a pleasurable realization of his mercy and grace toward our unworthy race, and that we joyfully tell the good news to others; and is not enough even that we exert ourselves with uncommon zeal to bless others with those good tidings of great joy for all people; for we may do all of these things and more, and yet, if we do not let our Heavenly Father's goodness and grace have its due effect upon our own hearts, our knowledge, and even our good works, will profit us but little.
Our main object, therefore, in studying God's Word and his character as therein revealed, should always be to bring our own hearts and minds into closer sympathy and likeness and co-operation with his. As the Apostle says (1 Thes. 4:3), "This is the will of God, even your sanctification" – our full setting apart or consecration of mind and heart entirely to the Lord, that he may complete the good work of transforming us into his own glorious likeness by the operations of his Spirit through his Word, and thus fit us for the enjoyment of his abounding grace in the ages to come.
In the above words of the Apostle we notice particularly that the statement is made of all the Church – We all are being changed from glory to glory. And the inference is consequently a strong one, that those who are not being so changed are not of the class addressed. This is a solemn thought, and one that claims the most careful consideration of all the consecrated. The question with us is not, Have we made a full consecration of ourselves to the Lord? but, having made such consecration, are we, in accordance with that consecration, fully submitting ourselves to the transforming influences of the Spirit of God to be changed daily more and more fully to the glorious likeness of our God?
Like the Apostle, then, addressing all the consecrated and faithful, we also of to-day may say, We all are being changed from glory to glory under the moulding, fashioning influences of the Spirit of God. We can see it in each other, thank God, and we glory in it. Yesterday the mallet of divine providence struck a blow upon that member of the body of Christ, and an unsightly excrescence of pride fell off, and he looks so much more beautiful to-day, because he did not resist the blow, but gracefully submitted to it. The day before, we saw another under the wearing, painful polishing process to which he patiently submitted, and O how he shines to-day. And from day to day we see each other studiously contemplating the divine pattern and striving to copy it; and how we can note the softening, refining and beautifying effect upon all such. So the Spirit of God is at work upon all who fully submit themselves. [R1499 : page 68]
But while the mallet and chisel and the polishing sand of divine providence do a very necessary part of the transforming work by way of relieving us of many of the old and stubborn infirmities of the flesh which cannot be so promptly and so fully eradicated by the gentler influences of the Spirit, the Apostle points us to the specially appointed means for our transformation in the careful and constant contemplation of the glory of God as revealed in his Word, and also in his blessed ambassador, Jesus Christ, saying, "We all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory."
"With open face" would signify without any intervening vail of prejudice or fear or superstition, but with simplicity of heart and mind. So we behold the glory (the glorious character) of the Lord – not with actual vision, but as in a glass, as reflected in the mirror of his Word and as exemplified also in his living word, Jesus Christ. And to aid us in this study we are promised the blessed influences of the Spirit of the Lord, who will guide us into all truth and show us things to come.
As we look into the mirror what a glorious vision we have of the divine justice, which we promptly recognize as the very foundation of God's throne (Psa. 97:2), as well as the foundation of all our present and future security. If we could not recognize the justice of God we could have no assurance that his gracious promises would ever be fulfilled; for we would say, Perhaps he will change his mind. But on the contrary we can say, He changeth not, and whatsoever he saith shall surely come to pass. See with what inflexible justice the sentence upon our sinful race has been executed. Generation after generation for over sixty centuries has witnessed it; and no power in heaven or earth could revoke that sentence until the claims of justice had been fully met by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Justice, says the Word of God, must be maintained inviolate at any cost. And herein we read not only our rightful condemnation as a race of sinners, but also final, complete and glorious deliverance, because "God is just to forgive us our sins" (1 John 1:9), since the precious blood of Christ redeemed us from the curse of death.
And while we thus read justice in the character of God, and mark with what scrupulous care he regards and respects this principle in all his dealings with his creatures, we see how he could have us respect the same principle in all our dealings. Thus we are led to consider what is the exact line of justice in this and that and the other transaction; and to remember also that this must be the underlying principle in all our conduct: or, in other words, that we must be just before we can be generous. This principle should therefore be very marked in the character of every Christian.
Next we mark the love and mercy of God. The death sentence upon our fallen race was a most merciful sentence. It was equivalent to saying, See, I have of my own free favor granted you life and all its blessings to be enjoyed forever on condition of its proper use; but now, since you have abused my favor, I take it away and you shall return to the dust from whence you came.
True, in the process of dying and of bringing forth a dying race to share the penalty, the mercy of God is not so manifest to the unthinking, but those who see the plan of God discover in all this, not the decree of a merciless tyrant, but the star of hope which was to be the seed of the woman to bruise the serpent's head, and in due time the deliverer of the entire race once generated in sin but afterward regenerated to life and all its blessed privileges. And in this mercy, in all its multiplied forms, we see the verification of the statement that "God is love." Thus we learn to be loving and merciful and kind both to the thankful and also to the unthankful.
We mark also our heavenly Father's bountiful providence and his tender care for all his creatures; for even the sparrows are clothed and fed, and the unconscious lilies are arrayed in glory. Here we learn precious lessons of benevolence and grace. Thus, through all the catalogue of the moral and intellectual graces which go to make up a glorious character, we see in the mirror of the divine Word the model for our imitation; and in contemplation of all [R1499 : page 69] that is lovely, as embodied in him, and of all that is pure and holy and beautiful, we are changed little by little in the course of years to the same blessed likeness – from glory to glory. So be it: let the good work go on until every grace adorns the spotless robe of our imputed righteousness, received by faith in the blessed Son of God, whose earthly life was a perfect illustration of the Father's character, so that he could say – "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." Let us, therefore, mark well the love of Christ, the gentleness, the patience, the faithfulness, the zeal, the personal integrity and the self-sacrificing spirit. Mark well, then imitate his example and shine in his likeness.
The Apostle adds (2 Cor. 4:7) that the fact that we thus hold this treasure of a transformed mind in these defective earthen vessels proves the excellency of the power of God, and not of us. And so, by constant yielding to the influences of the Spirit of God, we may show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Pet. 2:9.) Oh! let our efforts and prayers continually be that these poor earthen vessels may more and more show forth the praises of our God. Let them be clean in body and mind; let no evil communications proceed out of the mouth; and let no actions unworthy of the sons of God dishonor these living temples of the holy Spirit. True, on account of our deformities we may very imperfectly perform good works; but, by the grace of God, let us at least refrain from known evil.
Such was the title of a discourse delivered a few months ago before a Jewish congregation, in a Jewish synagogue, by a Jewish rabbi – Joseph Krauskopf – from a purely Jewish standpoint. It may be regarded as one of the straws in the wind which shows that the blindness of Israel is beginning to be turned away. It is noticeable also that it indicates no disposition to accept the traditions of "Christendom" concerning Jesus – "the pagan myths and heathen doctrines which his later disciples fastened on his name" – but the Lord's own beautiful teachings and character as presented in the New Testament are set forth as worthy of Jewish admiration and study.
Even in the synagogues, and especially in the more liberal ones, the long and dearly cherished idea of the Alone Chosen People, of the Only Favorites of God, is fast losing its hold. Closer attention is being paid to such teachings as prophets like Micah stamped upon the pages of the Bible – that not the accident of birth among a certain tribe or race, but the practice of justice and mercy and humility, constitutes the Chosen of God; or to such Talmudic teachings as that which declares that the righteous of all nations and creeds will share in the happiness of future life. There, too, poet and dramatist, skeptic and scientist, prophets and reformers, liturgies and Bibles, of other nations and religions, meet with a hearty welcome in pulpit and pew, and their teachings, when noble, are reverentially listened to and taken to heart.
There is, however, with the vast bulk of them, one conspicuous exception. There is one illustrious reformer who meets with a scant welcome in the synagogue, if he is at all admitted. His very name grates on the Jewish ear. Many of even the most liberal among them, who listen enraptured to beautiful teachings of Hindoo or Parsee or Arabic or Greek or Roman prophet or reformer or moralist, instinctively recoil from every mention of that reformer and moralist who stands nearest to us of them all, whose teachings are almost identical with ours, who is of our flesh and blood, our kinsman, our brother, a Jew like ourselves, our teacher, like our Moses, our Isaiah, our Hillel. There are some even in this liberal congregation who would rather have such subjects as this not touched upon. Others are probably already squirming in their seats, and to endure this discourse to its end will put their patience and good behavior to a severe test. Others, not connected with us at all, have been in a state of excitement, if not indignation, ever since they read the announcement that to-day's lecture theme would be "Jesus in the Synagogue," and are sitting in impatient suspense, expecting any moment to hear of our wholesale baptism, of our obliterating [R1499 : page 70] the word ISRAEL from the honored name of our congregation, of our turning bodily from monotheistic Judaism over to our arch-enemy, to Trinitarian, Man-worshiping Christianity.
There is certainly in all that we have so far heard or seen concerning the historic Jesus nothing so un-Jewish, or anti-Jewish, or unmonotheistic, that his name should grate on the ears of his own brethren. He certainly bears no responsibility for whatever pagan myth and heathen doctrine later disciples fastened on his name, that now the Jewish synagogue, in which he himself once worshiped, should be closed against him. There is certainly nothing in what he has taught or said so repugnant to the Jewish sense of right, to Biblical or Talmudic ethics, that while one may with impunity quote Ingersoll or Huxley or Haeckel or Buddha or Seneca or Lucretius in the Jewish pulpit, he cannot, for the most part, quote even such excellent lessons as are contained in [R1500 : page 70] the Nazarene rabbi's Sermon on the Mount without incurring displeasure, or opposition, or interdiction.
This morning I shall select, from a large number at hand, just a few parallels between the sayings of Jesus and those of our other ancient Jewish savants, that you may convince yourselves how, by barring out from our synagogues the ethical sayings of Jesus, we close our doors to the noblest maxims in our own Biblical and Rabbinical literature.
Here are a dozen precepts from the first chapter of the Sermon on the Mount, and a dozen corresponding ethical maxims from Jewish Sacred Writings. With these passages before us (and what is true of these twelve passages is true of almost all the other ethical sayings of Jesus), which are identical in thought, frequently also in words, with those of Biblical and Talmudic writers, none of which are new, all of them fluent on the tongue of every cultured Jew at that time, wholly free from heathen mythology and from Gnostic theology and mysticism, how can we justly bar our doors to his ethical teachings, and extend a hearty welcome to identical teachings not only of other Jewish, but also of pagan, even agnostic, savants? With this knowledge of the parity of their ethical teachings before us, with the assurance that he himself taught nothing un-Jewish, said nothing unmonotheistic, is in no way responsible for the wrong done to Israel by his worshipers, what else does his banishment from his people, the exclusion of his teachings from Jewish homes, schools and synagogues, the Jewish aversion to his name, what else does it mean, if not visiting the guilt of deluded man-worshipers upon the innocent head of one like ourselves, and in purity of life and in excellence of teachings better than most of us?
It surely cannot be because of his opposition to, and scathing denunciation of, that barren ceremonialism and formalism which with many of his time had taken the place of pure religion, for, in truth, much fiercer were the denunciations of prophets like Isaiah, who inveighed against similar hypocrisies and ceremonialisms in their times. Much louder was their cry that it is not the fast, not sacrifice, not constant prayer, that God wants – nothing but clean hands, a pure heart, blessed deeds. More eager, and more successful even, were Rabbi Hillel and his school, who flourished shortly before the advent of Jesus, in their opposition to the rigorous legalism, profitless verbalisms and quibbles of the corrupted Pharisaism of their time.
With what justice, again I ask, do we banish him from our midst, whose very love for downtrodden Israel deluded him and his disciples into the belief that he was the expected Messiah, the "King of Israel," for which delusion he suffered as did many an unfortunate enthusiast before him, from the Roman tyrant a traitor's death? With what justice do we banish him, whose pure life, and beautiful teachings, and kindly deeds, whose gentleness and sympathy with the lowly and weak, whose unsparing severity on the haughty and hypocritical, are beautiful illustrations of what noble character, what exemplary specimens of humanity, Jewish home life, Jewish schooling, Jewish religion, can unfold and ripen? Why banish him, who has won a vast portion of humanity for civilization, for peace and good will, not by means of foreign dogmas or intricate theological abstractions and mysticism, but almost exclusively through such sublimely beautiful precepts and parables and incidents, as the Sermon on the Mount, the parable of the good Samaritan, his tenderness toward the little ones, the freedom of his intercourse with the lowly, that are all Jewish, that sprang from, and were nurtured on, Jewish soil? Why banish such an illustrious scion of our race, one of our best proofs to a prejudiced world of what the Jew really was, still is, and ever shall be?
To all such questions answer we have none, save that of deep rooted antipathy, engendered and nurtured by eighteen centuries of Christian cruelty and injustice toward the Jew. That antipathy, though pardonable, is much to be regretted. By banishing him, for no wrong of his own, we ourselves strengthened in those [R1500 : page 71] that worshiped him the belief that we were in reality the wicked people for which they held us, that we were his executioners, who gloried in the deed, that we delighted in nothing more than in reviling and in cursing him. By banishing from us the godly man we strengthened our persecutors and his followers in the belief that he was the Man-God, that their cruel treatment of us was the visitation of God for our spurning his only-begotten Son. By closing, even in these days of kindlier Christian treatment of the Jew, our synagogues to Jesus and to his teachings, while we open them wide to those of illustrious Mohammedan, heathen or skeptic, we confirm the Trinitarian's belief that we are stricken with spiritual blindness.
It is not with spiritual blindness that we are stricken, but with a blindness to our own and our religion's best interest. There has been enough of antipathy, and too much of unjust visitation of others' guilt upon an innocent head. The recognition which proud, intensely patriotic France has recently shown to the genius of a hostile nation, surely we ought to show to a genius who is at the same time our own brother, of our own flesh and blood, and whose genius was all drawn from our soil.
Thy spirit, Lord, has filled my life
With sweetness and with love intense.
I love to live to do thy will,
Until thou'rt pleased to call me hence.
I love to sit at thy dear feet,
And learn of thee thy will, thy mind.
And thou dost teach me lessons sweet,
And learning these, great peace I find.
Thou'rt ever ready to bestow
A blessing fresh, so rich and rare;
And as we're filled with thy great love,
To that extent all things seem fair.
The sweetest portion of my days
Is spent just here, low at thy feet.
Words fail to tell how deep the joy.
The hour is holy when we meet.
How gladly will I hail the day
When I shall see thee as thou art,
And be made like thee, precious One,
And of thy glory share a part.
"For thus saith the Lord of hosts: Yet once [more] it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, and the Desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts." – Hag. 2:6,7.
Here is one of the richest promises in the blessed Word of God. It is the gospel in a nutshell – the gospel of grace to the world and of glory to the Church; and it is signed at both ends with the signature of the Sovereign of the universe, Jehovah of hosts. It was thus uttered by the mouth of one of his holy prophets – Haggai. But though with the other writings of the prophets it was held sacred as the word of the Lord and reverently read by his anciently chosen people, fleshly Israel, their understanding of it fell far short of its true significance; and not until the holy Spirit was given as a comforter, a guide into all truth and a revealer of things to come (John 14:26; 16:13), was the precious import of this declaration of Jehovah made manifest to his saints (the gospel Church), as it has been through his holy apostles and prophets. – Eph. 3:5.
Fleshly Israel thought they saw in this declaration an intimation of the exaltation and universal dominion of their nation, the fall of the Persian kingdom and the subserviency of all other nations to them, and that the house of Israel, thus exalted and enthroned above all the nations, would be filled with the glory of the Lord and recognized by all the world as God's specially chosen and honored people – a holy nation and a royal priesthood. With such a hope in view they diligently and cheerily worked to rebuild the ruined temple and to repair the fallen walls of Jerusalem after the decree of the Persian monarch Cyrus granted them liberty to return from captivity. But centuries rolled on: the Persian empire fell, but Israel's glory still tarried; for they only passed from under the dominion of [R1500 : page 72] Persia to that of Greece, and then of Rome; and then, as a nation scattered and peeled, they were driven out of the land of their fathers – the land of divine promise – and scattered among all nations and persecuted among all unto this day.
What then? has God's promise failed? or has he forgotten it? No; for the Apostle Paul, under the leading of the holy Spirit, calls it to mind again (Heb. 12:26-28) and shows that the house which is to be thus filled with the glory of the Lord is not the fleshly house or kingdom of Israel, but the spiritual house or kingdom of God – the Gospel Church.
The shaking of the earth mentioned in this text presupposes a former shaking, and this one is shown to be the last. The former shaking was that typified in the quaking of the earth at the giving of the law at Sinai; for under the law, says the Apostle, every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, and at various intervals the nation was thoroughly shaken and sifted by captivities and otherwise, that only the loyal and true might remain. (See Hebrews 12:25,26; 2:2; 3:17; 10:28.) But this last shaking is to be a greater shaking than fleshly Israel ever experienced; it is to be a shaking of the heavens [symbol of the ruling powers], and the earth [all organized and law-abiding society], and the sea [the lawless and anarchistic elements], and the dry land [the established aristocracy of wealth and social independence]. And it is to be a shaking, not only of one nation, but of all nations – "And I will shake all nations." Surely this predicted shaking of all nations is but a repetition of the prophecy of Daniel (12:1) of a great time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation.
But the Apostle Paul gives us the comforting assurance that "This word, yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, that the things that cannot be shaken may remain." And he further shows (Heb. 12:28) that that which will remain after the shaking, and which cannot be moved, will be the kingdom of God, which we shall inherit if we prove worthy – i.e., if we stand all the tests and shakings and cannot be shaken out.
The Apostle, in stating that the kingdom of God – the true Church, the elect – cannot be shaken, thereby intimates that it shall not be exempted from those blasts that shall shake and utterly remove all other organizations, but rather that the true, elect Church shall not be moved by them. Her foundation is sure. "God is in the midst of her, and she shall not be moved." (Psa. 46:5.) As a matter of fact, we find ourselves to-day in the midst of these perilous and disintegrating influences. The storm is rising, and, as predicted, it is felt first by the Lord's little flock of consecrated believers. Their faith and patience and zeal and endurance are being tried by every means that the adversary can devise. Every device of error is being put forth in its most pleasing and subtle form; and advantage is being taken of every weakness of the flesh to overcome those who are endeavoring to fight the good fight of faith and to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil.
And when we consider that "we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but against principalities, and powers, and against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12), we realize that the contest is a very unequal one unless we lay hold upon the strength which God supplies to us through Christ.
The Apostle's language further intimates that since only that which cannot be shaken will remain and will inherit the kingdom, all others will fall. And in this light the words of the Psalmist – "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand" – are seen to be no exaggeration. Nor should the faithful few be at all dismayed when the various shakings sift out their number; for so it must be until only that which cannot be shaken shall remain. Thus the whole nominal church, both within and outside the various organizations, must be shaken until only the true and faithful remain; for God will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend. – Matt. 13:41.
But this shaking is permitted, not only to sift out of the Church all shakable things, but [R1500 : page 73] it is to extend to all the nations; and so unprepared are they for the storm that is coming, and so unable to resist it, that the Apostle, with prophetic foresight, declares that their shaking signifies their removal (Heb. 12:27); and further, that their removal is not in order that anarchy may prevail, but in order that the kingdom of God, which cannot be shaken, may take their place.
Thank God for the prospect of an unshakable kingdom, whose king shall reign in righteousness and whose princes shall decree justice (Isa. 32:2; Prov. 8:15), and under whose dominion the whole earth shall be at rest. (Isa. 14:7.) This is the kingdom which the Prophet declares will indeed be "the desire of all nations," when it is once established and its blessings begin to be realized by the world. Yes, truly "the desire of all nations shall come" – with blessings of life and health and peace and prosperity and good government. It is for this coming kingdom and its blessings that the whole creation groans and travails together in pain, waiting for the adoption, viz., "the redemption of our body" – the body of Christ, the heirs of the kingdom. (Rom. 8:22.) As soon as this body is all selected, fitted and tested, then the kingdom will be established and the desire of all nations will have come – the long desired peace and prosperity which every experiment of their own will have failed to secure. And doubtless every possible experiment will have been tried and proved futile before that time; the last, that of socialism, ending in universal anarchy.
It is this body of Christ, this spiritual house of Israel, which, though lashed by many a storm, nevertheless "cannot be shaken," because it is firmly founded upon the Rock Christ Jesus: it is this house that Paul calls "the temple of God" (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19) that is to inherit the kingdom of God, and that Jehovah says he is going to fill with his glory.
He will fill it with the glory of the divine nature: he will make every member of it like unto Christ's glorious body: he will endow them with power from on high to execute faithfully all of the divine purpose for human restitution, and for the establishment of universal harmony and peace. Praise the Lord for such a prospect for both the Church and the world. May its inspiration be felt by every devoted heart, and its warning be heeded by every one who feels to any degree inclined to be unstable. Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand unshaken in the midst of the storms of this evil day, and be counted worthy to be a living stone in that glorious temple of God, now shortly to be filled with his glory, and to be an heir of that kingdom which cannot be moved, and which shall indeed be the desire of all nations.
The following editorial, from the Pittsburg Telegraph, February 29th, shows how worldly people estimate present governments and how an improvement is already the desire of all nations. The great time of trouble, predicted in the Scriptures as nigh, even at the doors, which will result in world-wide anarchy, will be the result of efforts to improve upon just such dishonesty of government as is here brought to our attention. We who see and have confidence in the Lord's plan and kingdom alone realize how futile is every such hope – because rulers can not be found that are pure in heart and that rule from love of the interest of the people.
"A perfect epidemic of financial scandals seems to have swept and is still sweeping over the world. Not to speak of comparatively small transactions, we have had something like scandal in Germany in connection with the small-arms factory there. Portugal had to send one of her leading statesmen into the penitentiary for frauds committed in the State railways. France is still in the throes of a financial revulsion connected with the Panama Canal swindle. It happily did not extend to [R1500 : page 74] the government finances, which are still able to show a clean bill of health.
"Now comes a scandal of the first magnitude in Italy, compromising many of her principal statesmen to such an extent as to endanger the very throne itself. Many of the most powerful Ministers have made use of their positions to sanction fraudulent operations on the part of the principal banking institutions of the country in return for large bribes. Indeed, the situation there may be described as far more serious than that in France, since the revelations made there, however damaging to the reputation of the official and parliamentary classes, do not directly affect the national credit, as do those on the south side of the Alps.
"It seems a secret investigation was made by the Government some three or four years ago, when the National Bank of Italy had advanced some $10,000,000 to another institution in great straits. The results of this investigation were pigeon-holed for reasons which the reader can readily supply.
"A few weeks ago the Government submitted to the Legislature a proposal for a six years' extension of the Banking law which is now about to expire. Great was the consternation of the Ministers when they found that the measure was opposed by a Sicilian Radical Deputy named Napoleone Colaianni.
"Almost at the very outset of the speech (says a letter in the New York Tribune) against the projected bill, he confronted the Ministers with the damaging report above referred to as having been kept secret by the Government. No one knows how it has come into his hands. His charges, founded on the paper in his hands, were directed principally against the great Banca Romana, and consisted, among other things, of an assertion that it kept a duplicate series of notes (each set bearing the same numbers) in circulation, thus fraudulently exceeding its legal issue by 100 per cent. It is calculated that by this means the bank has an illegal circulation of $6,000,000. This state of things, repeated in a smaller degree by the other banks of emission, had become known during the last two or three years, and has led to the institution in question being black-mailed by various statesmen, Government officials and politicians, [R1501 : page 74] under threats of exposure.
"It is stated by the writer quoted that not less than 150 Senators and Deputies are compromised by these revelations, as having borrowed money without ever having gone through the formality of paying back.
"A number of arrests have been made, but that the events alluded to will have more consequences than merely increasing the population of the jails would seem to be clear to all who consider the very precarious nature of the hold the National Government has on the masses of the people."
[Before our February TOWER had been issued, a reporter representing a Pittsburg journal, and several others east and west, learned something concerning its contents, and applied to us for proof sheets in advance; – proposing to call it to public attention. His report, however, was glaringly incorrect; and this led us to give to the public, through various daily news-papers, a more correct statement of our faith, and of our attitude toward fellow Christians.
I owe it to myself and to my fellow citizens to state publicly that I wholly disclaim the "attack" and "challenge" upon the Christian ministers of this vicinity, attributed to me in the Dispatch of Tuesday. I would assure all that I have none but friendly feelings toward fellow Christians, however much I may differ from some of them regarding the teachings of the Holy Scriptures. A Dispatch reporter learned that we had on the press a pamphlet entitled, "What Saith the Scripture About Hell?" and, securing an advance copy, inquired whether we would not send a copy to the ministers of Pittsburgh and Allegheny. We concluded that the suggestion was good, and assented. This became the basis of a half column of miserable misrepresentation, and a blatant challenge, with which I have not the slightest sympathy. [R1501 : page 75]
As for Russellites and Russellism, we know nothing of them and never shall. I have lived in this vicinity for nearly half a century, and have published and circulated millions of tracts and pamphlets without the name of Russell being mentioned in them in any manner whatever – a very different method from that pursued by those who seek their own name's fame. I seek not to add to the number of Christian sects, but on the contrary, I seek to present that one harmonious view of God's word upon which all true Christians might harmonize differences and unite in one Church as at the first – "The Church of the Living God" – whose "names are written in heaven."
True, I hold views differing considerably from those of many. But the last fifteen years have decreased these differences considerably, and the next fifteen will probably bring still greater changes. Our Presbyterian and other Calvinistic friends have approached much nearer to us on the subjects of God's elections and decrees, and a hope for the heathen and the ignorant beyond the present life. And the thinking classes of the entire church, of all denominations, are much nearer to us in our denial that eternal torment is the future for all who are not members of the church – or more than nine-tenths of the human race. Indeed, I am confident that more than one-half of the ministers and intellectual membership of Christendom no longer believe this horrible, God-dishonoring, soul-degrading theory hatched in the dark ages.
But most of those who see the fallacy of this eternal torment theory are afraid to let others see it, lest the influence should be pernicious. I, on the contrary, show from the Scriptures that God has no such plan; that the passages of Scripture supposed to teach it are symbolical and misunderstood, and that God's plan is one of justice and love in Christ, and will embrace, with an opportunity of everlasting life, every member of the human family, either in the present or in a future life. They hold that, if the fear of eternal torment be taken away, people would hasten to become criminals. I reply that faith in eternal torment is confessed by almost all the criminals executed; and that an examination of the inmates of jails and penitentiaries has often proved that almost all of the inmates confess to faith in some of the so-called orthodox creeds. And the most casual observer of the every-day street profanity must admit that fear of hell and torment seems to have no effect upon the lower classes, who jest about such matters.
The fact is that while some feel a little timorous on the subject, no intelligent person really believes that the great Creator made a lake of fire and brimstone into which to cast nine out of ten, or any other proportion, of his creatures for preservation in torture to all eternity. And I hold that in hiding the truth on this subject, and making a false pretense of believing it, a serious error is unintentionally committed by some of God's people. Such a monstrous doctrine cannot possibly be upheld before the present nineteenth century light and intelligence. And if Christian people persist in upholding it publicly, and in claiming that it is the teaching of the Bible, while denying it privately, they will commit several serious errors.
My teachings, both oral and by the printed page, are in harmony with this, my faith. In harmony with the general intelligence of our favored day, I believe that God is granting, to all who rightly seek it, special light upon His Word – "meat in due season" to the household of faith. I prefer to study, and think it right to interpret, the Bible in the light of its own spirit-illumined utterances (through the Apostles [R1501 : page 76] and Prophets), rather than in the light of creeds formulated in the dark ages, by fallible though probably well-intentioned men.
All intelligent people who accept the Bible as God's inspired Word must admit that this is the correct principle in Bible study and teaching. And, if so, all true Christians should unite their hearts and heads and hands in finding out and making known that interpretation of the Scripture which harmonizes God's character and plan with the highest development of sanctified common sense.
Since, in view of the misrepresentation set forth in the Dispatch, the sending of the pamphlet which examines the entire teaching of the Bible on hell and torment to the ministers of this vicinity might be considered a discourtesy, "an attack" and "a challenge," we conclude not to do so. But we here announce our willingness to send this 10 cent pamphlet free to any minister of any denomination who will drop us a postal card requesting it. And to any one requesting it, we will send free our new 32-page pamphlet entitled, "Thy Word is Truth – A Reply to Robert Ingersoll's Charges against Christianity."
But while I make no "attack" and offer no "challenge," my conviction that the Bible does not teach eternal torment of any sort as the penalty for sin is so strong that if any minister, recognized as orthodox by the Evangelical Alliance, desires to discuss this subject with me publicly, for the truth's sake, I will take pleasure in endeavoring to set him straight on what saith the Scripture on this subject, or in being set straight by him on the same authority.
Respectfully, a minister (servant) of Christ and the Truth,
The daily papers of this week mention four cases of violent insanity resulting from misrepresentation of the divine plan – based upon the fallacious doctrine of a hell-of-torment. One is a Mrs. W. Wilbur, of Rowan, Iowa. Of her it is said, "The preacher's description of the torments of the damned made such a vivid impression upon Mrs. Wilbur's mind that it is feared she is hopelessly insane." The other three are Mr. and Mrs. Gleason, and another person whose name we did not learn, at Burg Hill, Ohio. Two of these went ravingly insane the same night, and had to be bound hand and foot, and when, the night following, the third became insane, a "citizens committee" [R1502 : page 76] called upon the "Evangelist" (?) and compelled him to leave the town.
To what extent this blasphemous doctrine is accountable for all the insanity of the world, God only knows; but surely it is responsible to a considerable extent. How many children have received pre-natal mental injury through the attendance of mothers at such "revivals!" Many of those made insane are so affected from sympathy – for companions, children or parents who have died out of Christ. One sister in the church at Allegheny told recently how the truth had reached her when her mind had almost given way under the strain of weeks of agony for her husband, who had died a moral man, but without profession of religion.
Surely the gospel of damnation and torment – whether the vulgar theory of literal fire and flame or the more aesthetic theory of mental anguish which some say is worse – is quite a different gospel from that preached by our Lord and the Apostles. The multitude bare our Lord witness and marveled at the gracious words which he spoke. (Luke 4:22.) None of the Apostolic epistles contain one word about eternal torment, but tell of the love and peace of God which pass all understanding, which shall keep the hearts of believers. (Phil. 4:7.) "Being justified by faith [in the real gospel of God's love and favor to us and toward all in Christ], we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." – Rom. 5:1.
We whose eyes have been opened to clearer views of our gracious Heavenly Father's plan and words do well to show our love and zeal for him and for our blinded fellows by letting our light so shine as to glorify him and bless them. Whenever you hear of a discourse about to be preached on hell, etc., send for a lot of Tract No. 1, free, and distribute to the congregation after the discourse – keeping a reasonable distance away from the church building.
In the story of the book of Esther we have a glimpse of the condition of the Jews under the dominion of Persia. From chapter 3:8,9 we learn that they were scattered all over the Persian provinces and were living in a measure of temporal prosperity, and that their destruction and the confiscation of their property and goods would be a large acquisition to the king's treasury, since ten thousand talents of silver were willingly appropriated to accomplish this end.
The incident of this lesson furnishes also an instance of the Lord's providential care over them and his preservation of them as a people when their destruction was threatened by a wicked and capricious king. And this marked providence is specially noteworthy in view of the fact that these were the descendents of those Jews who failed to go up to Jerusalem to restore and to build it, when Cyrus issued the decree that all who desired might do so. They had not been zealous for the Lord, but nevertheless his loving kindness did not forsake them, and when they cried unto him he heard and answered their prayer.
I. QUAR., LESSON XII., MAR. 19, PROV. 23:15-23.
VERSES 15,16 manifest the right desire and ambition of a true parent for a son – viz., wisdom and righteousness. The ambitious aim of some parents is to have their own sons men of wealth, or power, or fame, or social prominence: but none of these things are worthy of their ambition. It is the wise son (wise in heavenly wisdom) that maketh the glad father.
VERSES 17,18. It is indeed folly to envy sinners and thereby to miss the joy and peace which naturally flow from a heart full of the love and reverence of the Lord; for there is an end of their brief pleasures, while those whose joy is in the Lord have a never failing source of consolation.
VERSE 19. The guiding of the heart in the right ways of the Lord is more important than the guiding of our actions, because if the heart is right the actions will regulate themselves accordingly. "Keep thy heart, for out of it are the issues of life." (Prov. 4:23.) By communion with God in prayer and through the Word of truth our hearts are kept in the love and service of God; and it is therefore only by constant use of these means that our hearts can be guided in the right way.
VERSES 20,21 need no comment: they need only to be remembered and heeded.
VERSE 22. This is but another way of saying, Honor thy father and thy mother. And the obligation of honor to parents never ceases, though that of obedience does when the years of maturity and discretion are reached.
VERSE 23. Truth, wisdom, instruction and understanding are not dear at any price, and when secured should never be sold or compromised for the short-lived advantages of error. Buy the truth, and sell it not: in meekness and with a ready and appreciative mind seek instruction in the ways of God's appointment, but never take counsel with the ungodly. In God's Word a refreshing understanding of the truth is gained and the wisdom that cometh down from above is secured, with all the peaceable fruits of righteousness.
The Golden Text – Eph. 5:18 – does not refer to literal wine, but to the spirit of the world, which is thus symbolized. Christians are here counseled not to become intoxicated with the spirit of the world (See also Isa. 28:7), but to be filled with the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of the truth, that so they may bring forth its precious fruits in abundance. page 78
I. QUAR., LESSON XIII., MARCH 26.
Alas! how many of the virgins espoused to Christ are "foolish;" how many have failed to secure the oil, the spirit of the truth, in God's appointed way, and are now beginning to find that they walk in darkness – that their lamps have gone out. Only those who have the spirit of the truth (oil) in themselves – honest hearts, zealous for the right – will be able to get light from God's Word, shortly. But to such humble, honest ones God provides a light, a lamp, which shines now and will continue to shine in the dark places until the day dawn. – 2 Pet. 1:19.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Many thanks for your note of the 5th inst., just received. March and January 1st copies of WATCH TOWER also came to hand. The latter is particularly rich. "In Our Day" is convincing. I have now finished all three volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN; and more and more clearly, as I read, do your positions appeal to my judgment. It is, of course, difficult to break away all at once from opinions that have been held for years, but with me the work is done in large measure. I cannot think other than that your clear-cut expositions of Scripture and interpretations of prophecy, harmonizing as they do with present day occurrences, are of God. I have read theology (mostly Arminian) to some extent, but always with more or less dissatisfaction, because of its failure to answer many questions that would not down; while Calvinism has been to me an unthinkable system. Yet I have continued preaching and working in the hope that light would come. It has come, but not in the way expected.
I sincerely believe that in what I have thus far learned I have been led by the Divine Hand, and feeling this shall trust implicitly as to the future, although leaving the pastorate of the church which I have long loved, and in whose work and fellowship I have realized much joy, would be no small thing.
I am yours sincerely,
MR. C. T. RUSSELL, DEAR SIR: – After having been a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church for about twenty years, I have to-day sent to the pastor a letter of withdrawal. I have hesitated long to take the step, as it is a coming out from pleasant associations, and fellowship with many who are apparently perfectly honest in their belief; but it is also a coming out of Babylon or confusion. My prayer has been, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do;" and now, with an honest desire to do God's will, and to walk in the footsteps of our Lord and Master, I have taken the step.
The teachings of the several volumes of DAWN and the WATCH TOWER have been food to my soul. From a child I have read the Scriptures, and all other books that I thought or hoped would make plain to my understanding the truth, as I was hungry to know and anxious to teach it; and now, as the day dawns, and the Sun of Righteousness arises with healing in its beams, the clouds are being dispelled, the blind are receiving sight, and by confessing the new light, or, rather, the "Old Theology," men are again being put out of the synagogues; but the refreshment which comes to the believer makes us rejoice in hope, knowing [R1503 : page 78] that the day of our redemption draweth nigh.
I preach the truth wherever opportunity affords; and if circumstances would permit, I would gladly go out into all the world and preach the gospel to all having hearing ears; but it is not my privilege so to do. Occasionally I have the opportunity to teach it to individuals.
I ask that you will remember me at the throne of grace, that I may be led by the spirit of Christ into all truth, that I may be enabled, by his grace, to walk worthy of the gospel wherein we are called, that my will may be fully submitted to God's will and that I may soon be buried with him in baptism; and, being filled with the spirit of Christ, that I may be permitted to go forth bearing the precious seed (truths) of the Lord.
Yours in hope and faith,
GENTLEMEN: – I have been a Christian, and a member of an evangelical church, for twenty-five years, but I could never bring myself to believe the doctrine of everlasting torment for even the worst of mankind; though I saw clearly that there could be no salvation out of Christ. The plan presented in MILLENNIAL DAWN so completely solves the difficulty, and the hitherto insoluble problem of God's permission of evil in the universe; and it is so grand and beautiful, so reasonable, and so worthy of God, that I am convinced it must be true. What light and glory it throws upon the Bible! I have always maintained that God would give every human being a fair opportunity for salvation, thought I could not tell how it was to be brought about; and now that I know, I rejoice in it every hour of the day. I now wish to qualify myself to answer objectors, for I intend to do what I can to spread these glad tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people. The Lord bless you and your work,
The Presbyterian church session, here, refuses to release me, upon the ground that it cannot do so without a trial for heresy; and it will never consent to that. Had I asked for a letter to another denomination, it would have been given; and if I insist upon leaving that body, my name will be put upon the "retired" list. Nevertheless, I have fully determined to do what seems to be the Lord's will, and I will not be argued out of doing my duty.
The most prominent elder has begun to study with a view of convincing me that I am in error. He is a physician, and is sure that I have overworked my brain upon these subjects until I have become skeptical. He says, truly, that if there be anything in my views, it is time that the church began to investigate the matter. Yours in the bonds of Christian fellowship,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Although somewhat tardy in the renewal of my TOWER subscription, I heartily thank you for its continued visits up to date. There is nothing I look forward to with so much hungering as its regular portion of meat and drink for the truth-hungry. There is no other publication that has been so satisfying to my mind; and to do without it would be out of question so long as it continues to supply this demand. Surely one that has received the anointing of the spirit and the eye-salve of the truth perceives the work, the strange work, that the Lord is working, not only in the nations but in the lives of his consecrated children, as each is quarried and chiseled and polished by the various workings together of the circumstances of his life, and thus made ready for his respective place in the great Temple – his body, his Bride – according to the plan of the great Master Builder. Lord grant that none of us come short of this through conceit or neglect.
The heavens are fast "rolling together like a scroll" in our midst: all the denominations represented here, ignoring differences among themselves, have united with the Catholic temperance society in a grand rally for temperance, and in a general boom for the society of the "mother church." So naturally and quietly do these things come to pass, that no one seems aware of the fast approach of the time of trouble. Blessed is he who has learned to lean on the arm of the strong Deliverer, and not on an arm of flesh.
May the dear Lord continue the flowing of the stream of truth to you, and through you to all the household of faith, is the prayer of your sister in Christ,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Enclosed you will find a small order for Tower publications. I desire to be used in the Master's service, and do what I can in spreading the truth. I have been a reader of DAWNS and Tower since January last – proving all things by the word; and I must confess that it has given me a joy and comfort that the world knows not of. I have been seeking to know the truth for about five years. Two years ago I came to the conclusion that the Baptist church was nearer to my views than any other denomination, as it claimed to take the Bible as its creed. So I joined that church with the understanding that I would take nothing for my guide but the Bible. I let my name remain until a few weeks ago, when I told the pastor to drop my name from the church roll. He expressed great surprise, but I told him that it was not that I had any enmity against any [R1503 : page 80] one, but that I felt a plain conviction that I could serve the Master better out of it, and by holding a membership in only the true church which Christ founded.
It is a painful thing for me now to hear the unsupported doctrines as taught by the various creeds, but what a joy it is to view the glorious glad tidings from the standpoint of the "Plan of the Ages." What wonderful harmony! Now I can see how "God so loved the world," and it has begotten in me a new hope and a desire to tell the good news to others. Oh, how I love to read the Tower. Do not fail to send it to me for 1893. It has food for me that I cannot find elsewhere. I must tell you, my dear brother, that you seem very near and dear to me, as do all the dear brethren in the Anointed One. I feel so glad to hear from any of them. I am almost alone here.
I have several DAWNS in circulation, and quite a number are interested. Two or three are rejoicing in the light, but as yet have not renounced their creeds. My health being poor, I am not able to be out much, and consequently I feel that I am not doing the work that I would love to do. I feel so unworthy, and long to be able to do much good in the Master's name. I need your prayers in my behalf, that I may be filled with humility and love, to the Master's glory. I desire to have my name on the Colporteur Roll, even if my work should seem small. I will endeavor to do all to the honor and glory of God. May the Lord's blessings rest upon us all in such a way as to bring us in contact with those that are hungering after truth. In hope, I am truly yours,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Three years ago Vols. I. and II. of the MILLENNIAL DAWN were placed in my hands. I read, re-read and studied the wonderful books, and to my own astonishment they began to break the seals of the Bible, and the hidden mystery was revealed to me. I then gave up the ministry and stepped out of Babylon. Since then I have been grieved, because I have not been able to enter the harvest work: for, being a Norwegian, I think it is of no use to try to sell English Dawns; but I intend to enter the work as soon as the Dawn is published in that language. Meanwhile I am trying to establish in the truth those who have already received it.
I recently visited a few saints in R__________, and was quite interested in learning how the truth reached them. About eight years ago a copy of the Watch Tower came into the hands of Brother M., and it made a deep impression on him. He brought the copy home and let some of his neighbors (Baptists) read it. After some time they sent for more numbers, which they read with increasing interest, and their faith in eternal torture was soon shaken. But as they had adopted some erroneous ideas of the atonement advocated by one of the leaders among the Swedish Baptists, the ransom was almost a stumbling-block to them. However, they have since been convinced, through the Tower, of their error, and now believe fully that Christ died in our stead.
When the Swedish Tower was discontinued, some of the friends subscribed for the English Tower. But as they could not read English, their progress was slow. However, being truth hungry, they have tried to dig out some of the gold and precious stones from the English. One, in particular, looks at every word in his lexicon in order to get the meaning of a sentence.
The cross is becoming more and more a rock of offence to the Swedes. Many in recent years have laid aside the paradoxes of the old German reformers, and are following in the footsteps of their own favorite leaders, who are "denying the sovereign Lord that bought them." But there are still many humble ones among Scandinavians, waiting for the truth, who will be glad to have the Swedish and the Danish Dawn.
I myself cannot express how grateful I am to you who have been the instrument in God's hands to lead me out of darkness into light. I know what it is to be in darkness. I was brought up in a very dark corner of the earth, in the darkest of Lutherism, and in full faith in the horrible doctrine of eternal torment. When I reached maturity, I received some light and peace, which I thought I could increase by preparing for the ministry. But while studying theology I encountered skepticism and disappointment, and was soon as discontented as ever. But now my skepticism and the former things have disappeared, and light and peace are streaming in upon me from the channel of truth, and I can praise the infinite, wise and loving God, whose ways and plan are so full of blessing to all his creatures.
Yours for the truth,
SUBSCRIPTION PRICE, $1.00 A YEAR, IN ADVANCE, INCLUDES ALSO A SUBSCRIPTION, FOR ONE YEAR, TO "THE OLD THEOLOGY" (TRACTS), QUARTERLY, By Express Order, Postal Money Order, Bank Draft, or Registered Letter. Foreign only by Foreign Money Order.
N.B. – Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accidents, or other adversity, are unable to pay, will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
I have passed days (even since tracts were made free) without giving out a single one of our strong list of tracts; but those days are about gone by, I hope and pray. I pray the Lord will not count me heartless, but careless I surely have been; and I am now trying to stir myself and others of my class to more energetic service. I might excuse myself to some extent, because of various labors – viz., meetings, visits, the canvass of DAWNS, correspondence, etc., – but others might justly say, those meetings, etc., were but added opportunities or tract work. But excuses are idle, and like trying to find excuses for staying at home, or returning early to it from the canvass. As no colporteur sells DAWN to every one he meets, and could sell more by trying more places, we should each try to sell one more DAWN, if not several more each day, and thus, by each, preach sixteen more sermons each day: But tract distribution is not hard work, like DAWN selling, and what good excuse can any of us offer for neglecting to circulate our good tracts.
A word to the wise is sufficient; but while the spirit is willing the flesh is weak, and so I add some incentives to engage or to engage more fully in these services for Christ. Before starting to canvass for DAWN, read a stirring chapter in the Bible or in MILLENNIAL DAWN, or a few of the Hymns of Dawn descriptive of our glorious hopes for both the Church and the world. If timid about giving tracts, read as above or read the tracts themselves over again, and if you are unselfish and loving as the gospel is, you will take pleasure in giving some to the truth-starving.
Another incentive to present service is the short time for it – "the night cometh when no man can work." It is evident that a portion of the forty years of the Gospel "harvest" will be a "night" without opportunity for labor. And this harvest time is now nearly half consumed: since there probably will be ten years of "night," but little more than a decade remains for active service. But in another passage (John 11:10) our Lord Jesus, referring to the present opportunity, says: "Are there not twelve hours in a day?" [May not this imply that the forty-year day will be practically divided in the middle? and, hence, that from 1895 onward the darkness may be expected to gather, more and more? – EDITOR.] Since there are the same number of hours to each individual, can a man excuse himself for misappropriating his consecrated time?
Every man has his day of twelve hours for "walking" and no more; and if he attempt to make up at night, by an extra effort, for the loss of his precious twelve hours of day he finds people unready – either asleep or getting ready for it. For a Scriptural use of the term "walk" see John 7:1 and 6:66, also Psa. 14:2 and 119:3. Jesus evidently designed to teach the need of unwavering, continuous, effective use of our present opportunities for service. He that walks by day has light and he that walks by night (either night of either text) has no light, and stumbleth.
In love, fellowship and service,
[Tract No. 14 is specially good to leave at houses where you have failed to get an order for DAWN. Some leave them saying, Read this little tract and you may want one of my books next__________day, when you will see me delivering copies to your neighbors. And often they watch for them and purchase. – EDITOR.]
|VOL. XIV.||MARCH 15, 1893.||NO. 6.|
How sacred the memories which gather around the anniversary of our Lord's death. It calls to mind the Father's love as exhibited in the entire plan of salvation, the center of which was the gift of his Son as our Redeemer. It calls specially to our thoughts him who gave himself a ransom – a corresponding price – for all. Then faith comes still nearer to him who "suffered, the just for the unjust," and with grateful, overflowing hearts and tear-dimmed eyes we whisper, My Savior! My Redeemer! My Lord and Master! "He loved me, and gave himself for me." Ah, yes! –
"Sweet the moments, rich in blessing,
Which before the cross I spend:
Life and joy and peace possessing
From my best and truest Friend."
How blessed the thought that he cares to have us think of him and call him ours – he so great – "far above angels and every title that is named; next to the Father himself; – and we so insignificant, so imperfect, so unworthy of such a friendship. And yet to think that "he is not ashamed to call us Brethren," and that he is pleased to have us memorialize his death and that he gave us the bread to emblemize his broken flesh and the wine to emblemize his shed blood – the one to represent the human rights and privileges purchased for all and of which all may partake, the other to represent the life he gave which secured everlasting life for all who will accept it.
How delightful, too, to count, as he and the Jews did, the days and the hours, even until finally "the hour being come," he sat down with his disciples to celebrate the death of the typical Paschal lamb, and to consider the deliverance of Israel's firstborn from the great destruction which came upon Egypt, and the subsequent deliverance accomplished through those first-born ones for all the typical Israel of God.
How precious to look beyond the type which was commemorated, and to hear the Master, as he took new emblems, say, "This [celebrating of the Passover] do [henceforth] in remembrance of me." Ah yes! in the crucified one we can now see "The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." "Christ our passover [lamb] is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast;" for as oft as we do this, we do show forth our Lord's death until he come again – until, his kingdom having come, we shall be permitted to drink with him the new wine (the new life and joy) in the Kingdom. – Matt. 26:29; 1 Cor. 5:7,8; 11:26.
But we are not only privileged to enjoy the favors of our Lord's sacrifice (by partaking of its merit and its consequent advantages, viz., justification, and restitution rights and privileges as redeemed men), but more than this: we are invited to share with our Master in the sacrifice and in its glorious reward. He says to us, Whoever is in sympathy with my work and its results – whoever would share my Kingdom and join in its work of blessing the world, let him also be broken with me, and let him join me in drinking the cup of self-denial, unto death. To all such he says, "Drink ye all of it."
Gladly, dear Lord, we eat (appropriate to our [R1504 : page 84] necessities) the merit of thy pure human nature sacrificed for us – for our justification. Gladly, too, we will partake of the cup of suffering with thee, realizing it to be a blessed privilege to suffer with thee, that in due time we may also reign with thee; – to be dead with thee, that in the everlasting future we may live with thee and be like thee and share thy love and thy glory as thy Bride. Oh! that we may be faithful, not only in the performance of the symbol, but also of the reality. Blessed Lord, we hear thy word saying, "Ye shall indeed drink of my cup and be baptized with my baptism. Lord, thy grace is sufficient for us, for we are wholly thine, now and forever.
Oh! what a thought: that if faithful in the present privilege of drinking of his cup and being broken with our Lord as his body, we with him will soon be that "Church of the first-born ones whose names are written in heaven," and as such shall constitute the Royal Priesthood, which, under our great High Priest, will lead, out of the Egyptian bondage and slavery to sin, all those slaves of sin whose groanings and prayers for deliverance have entered the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.
These will be some of the thoughts which will constrain numbers of the Lord's people all over the world to meet in little groups, and sometimes quite alone with Jesus, on the evening of March 30th, next, after six o'clock, to celebrate [R1505 : page 84] on its anniversary the most notable event in the history of the Universe of God.
Eat and drink, O beloved, says the King to his spouse. (Sol. Song 5:1.) Let us eat and drink reverently, devotedly, thoughtfully, prayerfully, tearfully perhaps, as we each think of our Redeemer's love and sacrifice, and pledge ourselves afresh to be dead with him. Meet with any who recognize him as their ransom, and who are pleased to do this in remembrance of him – or else do it alone.
Let your heart be so full of the reality that forms and ceremonies will generally be forgotten, except such as are needed for decency and order. Prepare beforehand some sort of "fruit of the vine." Our preference is for stewed-raisin juice or unfermented grape juice, and for either Jewish unleavened bread or plain water-crackers, which are about the same in substance – flour, water and salt, without leaven. Leaven being a symbol of sin or corruption, yeast-raised bread is not an appropriate symbol of our Lord, the undefiled and separate from sinners.
The Church at Allegheny will meet at "Bible House" chapel, Arch Street, at the hour above named. All, who trust in the substitutionary sacrifice finished at Calvary, and who are fully consecrated to the Redeemer's service, and who can make it convenient to meet with us, will be made very welcome. Some who profess that their wills are fully immersed into the will of Christ, desire to symbolize their baptism; and an opportunity will be afforded at 3 o'clock on the afternoon preceding the Memorial Supper. On the subject of Baptism see your TOWER for May '88, of which issue we have no more. For further particulars concerning the Memorial Supper see March '91 TOWER.
We have pointed out repeatedly the tendency of Christian people toward Union; showing, too, that such a union is predicted in Scripture; but that its results, while designed to be good, will really be bad; and this because it will be a mechanical union instead of a heart unity. The following clip from the Pittsburg Times, February 22d, shows that worldly people discern that the various denominations, while crying aloud for union, are far from united in heart or head.
"We have read with care most of the last number of The Church Union, and seldom anything more melancholy. The object of this paper is to induce believers and congregations everywhere "to manifest to the world their essential unity in faith and spirit," and almost every article in it is evidence that the object is unattainable.
"A distinguished Bishop of the Episcopal Church writes that there are two theories of the ministry, personal and official, that his denomination [R1504 : page 85] holds to the latter, 'and enjoins it upon her members as the one exclusive ministry, which they must accept or fall under discipline as law-breakers.' To the many who deny this 'one exclusive ministry' there is not much hope for unity in that quarter.
"Another writer lays down as prerequisites to unity, belief in the Bible as the sole guide to spiritual life, faith in the divinity of Jesus, and baptism; but a third writer, mocking at creeds as they exist, says: 'Let us have more thinking, then, upon the higher criticism, evolution, the intermediate state, the duration of future punishment, and such like matters, but whenever anyone rises to impose his opinions in regard to such subjects upon the brotherhood, let us resist him to the uttermost.' The latter permits the discussion and the overthrow, if it comes to that, of what the former sets forth as final truths, without the acceptance of which there can be no union.
"A fourth writer asks: "Why not come together in a loving fellowship of worship and work on the basis of the Christian religion as propounded by Jesus and his elect ones in the New Testament?" Upon this a fifth writer remarks that upon it all churches, Greek, Roman, Protestant orthodox and Protestant heterodox, ought to be able to unite, as they one and all "claim to hold a primitive belief and to practice the primitive ordinances." Whether he meant it or not he revealed the absurdity of attempting to find a basis of union in that which in its very nature is the cause of disunion, and which was never more incisive than now."
"A good land and a large, a land flowing with milk and honey." – Exod. 3:8.
Blest land of Judea! Thrice hallowed of song,
Where the holiest of memories pilgrim-like throng:
In the shade of thy palms, by the shores of thy sea,
On the hills of thy beauty, my heart is with thee.
With the eye of a spirit, I look on thy shore,
Where pilgrim and prophet have lingered before;
With the glide of a spirit, I traverse the sod
Made bright by the steps of the angels of God.
Blue seas of the hills! in my spirit I hear
Thy waters, Gennesaret, chime on my ear;
Where the lowly and just with the people sat down,
And the spray on the dust of his sandals was thrown.
Beyond are Bethulia's mountains of green,
And the desolate hills of the wild Gadarene;
And I pause on the goat crags of Tabor to see
The gleam of thy waters, O dark Galilee!
Hark! a sound in the valley where, swollen and strong,
Thy river, O Kishon, is sweeping along;
Where the Canaanite strove with Jehovah in vain,
And thy torrent grew dark with the blood of the slain.
There, down from his mountain, stern Zebulon came,
And Napthali's stay, with his eyeballs of flame,
And the chariots of Jabin rolled harmlessly on,
For the strength of the Lord was Abinoam's son!
There sleep the still rocks, and the caverns which rang
To the song which the beautiful prophetess sang,
When the princes of Issachar stood by her side,
And the shout of a host in its triumph replied.
Lo, Bethlehem's hill-site before me is seen,
With the mountains around and the valleys between,
There rested the shepherds of Judah, and there
The song of the angels rose sweet on the air.
And Bethany's palm-trees in beauty still throw
Their shadows at noon on the ruins below;
But where are the sisters who hastened to greet
The lowly Redeemer, and sit at his feet?
I tread where the twelve in their wayfaring trod;
I stand where they stood, with the chosen of God –
Where his blessing was heard, and his lessons were taught,
Where the blind were restored and the healing was wrought.
Oh, here with his flock the sad Wanderer came –
These hills He toiled over in grief are the same –
The founts where He drank by the wayside still flow,
And the same airs are blowing which breathed on His brow.
And throned on her hills sits Jerusalem yet,
But with dust on her forehead and chains on her feet;
For the crown of her pride to the mocker hath gone,
And the holy shechinah is dark where it shone.
But wherefore this dream of the earthly abode
Of humanity clothed in the brightness of God?
There my spirit but turned from the outward and dim,
It could gaze, even now, on the presence of Him.
Not in clouds and in terrors, but gentle as when
In love and in meekness He moved among men;
And the voice which breathed peace to the waves of the sea,
In the hush of my spirit would whisper to me!
And what if my feet may not tread where He stood,
Nor my ears hear the dashing of Galilee's flood,
Nor my eyes see the cross which he bowed Him to bear,
Nor my knees press Gethsemane's garden of prayer.
[R1508 : page 86]
Yet, loved of the Father, thy spirit is near
To the meek and the lowly and penitent here;
And the voice of thy love is the same even now,
As at Bethany's tomb, or on Olivet's brow.
Oh, the outward hath gone! – but in glory and power,
The spirit surviveth the things of an hour;
Unchanged, undecaying, its Pentecost flame
On the heart's secret altar is burning the same.
"I pray for them...which thou hast given me; for they are thine; and thou hast given them to me; and I am glorified in them." – John 17:9,10.
There is a touching pathos in this prayer of our Lord for his disciples as he was about to leave them which draws us very near to his loving heart; especially when he adds, "Neither pray I for these alone [then present with him], but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one – I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them as thou hast loved me." – Verses 20-23.
As we come to consider this beautiful expression of the Lord's sentiments with reference to the Church, we catch a glimpse of the glory of the blessed oneness of the divine family. It is a oneness of purpose, a oneness of confidence, a oneness of sympathy, a oneness of love, a oneness of honor, and a oneness of mutual possession. This oneness our Lord described as already existing between himself and the Father, but so far as his disciples were concerned it was and still is only prospective; and its full accomplishment is the ideal goal towards which we are taught to aspire.
But let us study this exemplified oneness more closely that we may be enabled the more fully to enter into it. In the first place we notice that the one purpose which is common to both the Father and the Son is the Father's purpose, which was gradually revealed to the Son in due time and order, whose it also became by adoption. Since Jesus himself said, "Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father" only (Mark 13:32), it is manifest that the revelation of that plan to him was a gradual one; and that he was led into the knowledge of its various features as they became due to be worked out through his instrumentality. Thus he was allowed to grow in knowledge; and thus, too, he was spared the sad spectacle of subsequent trouble which also lay along the pathway of the divine plan. Thus, while he joyfully worked out the grand plan of creation (John 1:3; Prov. 8:22-31), he probably knew nothing of God's purpose for the subsequent permission of evil and the necessity for the great work of redemption. Before he came to that test of faith in God his confidence in his almighty power, wisdom and love had been firmly established by the experiences of the past. For centuries he had seen his mighty works, marked his wondrous wisdom and experienced his tender love. Could he doubt him then when another feature of his plan made manifest the great work of redemption and restitution, and gave to him the privilege of undertaking this work, also for the joy that the Father set before him? No: doubtless he did not at first realize the depths of humiliation and sorrow through which he must pass, but, step by step, along the painful way of humiliation and suffering, his faith in the Father, founded upon his previous experimental knowledge, sustained him, as it is written – "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many." – Isa. 53:11.
We next notice between the Father and the Son a beautiful oneness of confidence. The Son trusted the Father fully – at first, because it was easy and natural. Created in the likeness of God, trust in the Being who brought him into existence was spontaneous, and experience served but to develop and establish it. And the Father trusted the Son fully – first, because he recognized in him the inherent principles of righteousness and truth and filial loyalty which [R1505 : page 87] he himself had given him; and, as the course of time and experience developed and the more firmly established his Son in righteousness, his confidence in him became firmly established. And so strong was the Father's confidence in the subsequent fidelity of his beloved Son, that he did not hesitate to declare the results of his faithfulness thousands of years before he even began the work of redemption. He even declared all the special features of his work, by the mouth of his holy prophets at various intervals for four thousand years before he began the work. And still he declares that the work shall in due time be gloriously accomplished. How wonderful and how beautiful is this mutual confidence!
We further notice a oneness of sympathy between the Father and the Son. The Son glories in the Father's plan, saying, "I delight to do thy will, O my God." He delighted in it because he discovered therein the worthy features of his Father's glorious character; and though his faith may have been temporarily tested by the permission of evil, his knowledge of God's character and resources and of the depth of his wisdom did not permit him to doubt, but held him still in loving trust in his infinite goodness and grace, and therefore in readiness to acquiesce fully in the measures proposed for the final triumph of righteousness and truth.
And the Father was likewise in loving sympathy with the Son, not permitting him to be tried above what he was able to bear; and not leaving him to bear any trial alone, but always granting him the light of his countenance and a joyful sense of admiring approval (John 11:42; Matt. 3:17), except when, for our sakes, he permitted him for a moment to feel that he was forsaken; when, in the anguish of his soul, he cried out at this unusual experience, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
Now mark the oneness of love manifested. In every act we have already noted we have seen it expressed. It was mutual love that delighted to manifest and express mutual confidence, that gloried in the same loving and benevolent purposes, that sympathized fully with each other's thoughts and feelings, and that delighted in the close and blessed relationship of Father and Son. The Father did not treat the Son as a servant and hide his purposes from him, but delighted to take him into his confidence in so far as his wisdom and prudence dictated – i.e., as the truth became meat in due season to him. And, in turn, the Son did not serve the Father as a hireling, but as a son with a common interest. The Father declared, "This is my beloved Son;" and the Son said, "I delight to do thy will."
How blessed the fellowship! It was a fellowship of joy and a fellowship of suffering – of joy in a common anticipation of the future glory; and of suffering in mutual participation of the preliminary trials to secure that end. The Son suffered in his humiliation and his dying agony; and the Father suffered in giving his only begotten Son – an intensity of suffering which the loving, yearning hearts of devoted parents can best imagine and appreciate.
There was further a recognized oneness of possessions clearly expressed by our Lord, who declared, "All things that the Father hath are mine." (John 16:15.) And the Apostle says, God hath appointed the Son the "heir of all things," and hath "set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come." – Heb. 1:1,2; Eph. 1:20,21.
And lastly we notice a oneness of honor. In honor each seems to prefer the other. The Father says, Let all men honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. (John 5:23.) God has made him the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, and exalted him to his own right hand, to the chief seat of power in his kingdom, giving him all power in heaven and in earth. – Heb. 1:2,3; Matt. 28:18.
In the work of creation he has set him forth in great prominence and glory, saying, "Without him was not anything made that was made." In the work of redemption and restitution God has set him forth so prominently that his name is the theme on every tongue, almost to the eclipse of the Father's own glory, who of necessity is himself greater than the Son (1 Cor. 15:27), [R1505 : page 88] and to whom the glory pre-eminently belongs, as the Son also declares, saying, "My Father is greater than I;" and again, "I can of mine own self do nothing....The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." – John 5:30; 14:10.
The Son's corresponding anxiety to glorify the Father is most marked in the instance when, realizing that he was approaching the dreadful hour of his dying agony, he exclaimed, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father save me from this hour? But for this cause came I unto this hour. Father glorify thy name" – even at this cost to me. (John 12:27,28.) Again we hear him say, "Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee." (John 17:1.) And when the great work of redemption and restitution is accomplished we see him delivering up the kingdom to God, the Father, and subjecting himself to his further direction that Jehovah himself may be universally recognized as all in all. (1 Cor. 15:24,28.) And we, like him, may surely trust that his purposes for the ages to follow will but the further express and emphasize the same lines of his glorious character – his justice, his wisdom, his love and his power.
Glorious oneness! who could suggest an improvement to its wondrous beauty and completeness? But the wonder and joy increase when we learn that it is also our privilege to come into this same blessed oneness with God. What! we inquire – the very same oneness as above described? Yes; undoubtedly it is our privilege to enter into the very same relationship and privileges and blessings. To this end consider the exceeding great and precious promises and see that it is ours to have the same oneness with God – of purpose, of confidence, of sympathy, of love, of honor and of possession.
The same plan of God is presented to and adopted by us, and we also are invited to become co-workers with God in carrying it out (2 Cor. 6:1); and in so doing we are counted in with Christ Jesus as filling up the measure of the sufferings of the anointed body necessary to the accomplishment of that plan. Our heavenly Father also similarly manifests his confidence in us – in the loyalty of our hearts toward him and in the sincerity of our consecration to him – even though he recognizes our inherent weaknesses and inability to carry out fully our own determinations. But, notwithstanding this, so great is his confidence in our sincerity and integrity of heart, that, on our profession of faith and consecration, he fully accepts us as his sons and heirs, supplementing our weaknesses and shortcomings with the all-sufficient merit of our Redeemer, in whom we humbly trust. And not only so, but as sons, honored and beloved, he makes known to us also, his secret counsels, which others cannot know (Matt. 13:11), and invites us to confide in him as children and to speak to him freely of all that concerns us, in full assurance of his loving interest even in our smallest affairs. (Psa. 103:13,14.) And then he commits a portion of his great work to us. He gives us certain talents, certain portions of his goods, and tells us to invest them for him according to our best judgment as to the profitableness of the results, not dictating all the minutiae of the management as to hireling servants, but merely submitting to us the general principles which should govern us. Thus, for instance, he gives us his plan as to the work in hand with such general directions as, not to cast our pearls before swine; to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves; to give meat in due season; to do good to all men as we have opportunity, but especially to the household of faith; and to observe the times and seasons, and the character of the work in each – seed-sowing in the spring and reaping in the harvest time; etc., etc. Thus with general directions he sends us forth – not like machines to do a monotonous treadmill service, but as intelligent beings, to use our brains as well as our hands and feet. So he counsels us to "study" to show ourselves workmen approved, and to consider and think, and not to be "as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle." (Psa. 32:9.) Then, according to our zeal and faithfulness, not only in the use of our hands, but also of our brains, in the Lord's service his confidence in us increases and we are entrusted with more and more of his goods and given a [R1505 : page 89] corresponding sense of our heavenly Father's approval. And the mutual confidence and fellowship of purpose and work, draw our hearts closer and closer to the heart of the Eternal, and the joyful realization of sonship and mutual interest and confidence and sympathy fills our hearts.
We are also assured of the same love from our heavenly Father which he exercises toward our Lord Jesus. The statement seems almost startling; but yet, hearken to our Lord's prayer – "I pray for them...that they may be one ...that they may be made perfect in one... that the world may know that thou hast... loved them as thou hast loved me." (John 17:20-23.) In amazement we inquire, How can this be? Our Lord Jesus was always in perfect harmony with the Father, a son which gloriously reflected his likeness; but it has not been so with us: we were sinners and had nothing in us worthy of love. Yes, but we have been washed and cleansed, and, however imperfect our earthen vessels may still be, our hearts are perfect in his sight who is able to read the heart. And, as he sees us with a perfect heart – a perfect purpose and intention – striving to overcome the weaknesses and disabilities of our imperfect flesh, and with painful, yet determined, effort to do his will, and humbly trusting in the provision which he has made for our redemption from the fall, God recognizes in us that which is worthy of his love. And so our Lord Jesus gives us clearly to understand that the Father loves us, even as he loves the Son.
And not only is this equality of the Father's love for us as for Christ Jesus thus declared, but it is also manifested; for we are called to be joint heirs with his Son and partakers of his glory; and even as all things are his, they are also said to be ours. – Rom. 8:17; 1 Cor. 3:21-23.
While such is the oneness between the heavenly Father and all his anointed sons, it is blessed also to mark the same oneness between Christ Jesus and his anointed brethren. The Lord Jesus does not selfishly grasp all the glory and seek to retain it for himself, but the rather with admiration he contemplates their acquired worthiness and says, They "are mine and I am glorified in them" (John 17:10); and he would have them all bound up together with himself in the Father's love. He would also have them with him, beholding and sharing the glory which the Father had given him from the foundation of the world – the glory of his mighty creative works, with all the other evidences of his Father's love. – John 17:22-24.
Thus all the divine family are bound together in one bond of love and fellowship and confidence and sympathy and harmony and common interest; and the honor and glory of one are the honor and glory of all. The Lord's prayer abounds with petitions for this oneness. Mark the expression (verse 21) – "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee" [thy spirit or disposition and purposes and aim being common to us all]. Hence he would have us adopt the same Father's spirit, aim and purpose, and devote all our powers with zeal and faithfulness to the accomplishment of the Father's will. Amen, so let it be.
II. QUAR., LESSON I., APR. 2, MATT. 28:1-10.
The familiar account of the Lord's resurrection is before us, and the brief record calls up a train of reflections worthy of our deepest reverence and profoundest gratitude. In the resurrection of Christ we have the assurance that death shall not always have dominion over us. His death satisfied the claims of justice against us, and his resurrection is the proof to us of the Father's acceptance of his sacrifice – our corresponding price – for the cancellation of our debt.
So important was this feature of the divine plan that the Apostle says that if Christ be not risen our faith is vain and there is no evidence that our sins are forgiven. (1 Cor. 15:14-18.) "But," he adds, "now is Christ risen from the dead and become the firstfruit [R1505 : page 90] of them that slept." (Verse 20.) And if the resurrection of Christ was but a first fruit, then the after fruits must in due time also appear. And so we read, "Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming when all that are in their graves shall hear his voice [the voice of the Son of God], and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment" [krisis, trial]. – John 5:28,29. And again we read that "God hath appointed a day [the Millennial age] in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained" – Jesus Christ. – Acts 17:31.
Thus in the resurrection of Christ we have assurance of a resurrection of all men – both of the Church and the world. The former are to have part in "his resurrection" – "the first resurrection" – and are to be joint-heirs with him in his Millennial kingdom; they are to be kings and priests unto God, and of the "Seed" of promise through whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Rev. 20:6; Phil. 3:21; Rom. 8:17; Rev. 1:6; Gal. 3:29; Gen. 28:14), while the latter, through this risen and exalted body of which Christ Jesus is the head, are to be granted (offered) the blessings of full restitution to the former estate of human perfection lost in Eden, – a full resurrection or lifting up to human perfection. – Acts 3:19-21.
It is only the long deferment of the "appointed day" of resurrection or restitution that makes this hope and promise seem like an idle tale, but now the time draws very near, as all may see who study the evidences presented in MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vols. II. and III., "The Time is at Hand" and "Thy Kingdom Come."
In this lesson we have also a beautiful example of the loving devotion of some of the Lord's followers – the Marys who improved the very earliest opportunity to honor him whom they so loved. And their devotion was richly rewarded in being the very first to see the Lord and receive from him the message to bear to the other disciples.
For a particular account of our Lord's doings during the forty days after his resurrection, and the character of his change from natural to spiritual conditions, etc., see MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., pages 107-172.
The Book of Job is credited with being the finest piece of literature in the Hebrew language. It is a poem: and all scholars admit that no translation yet given does it justice. Martin Luther, after reviewing his last effort to translate it into the German, said, "Job is suffering more from my version than from the taunts of his friends, and would prefer his dunghill to my translation of his lamentation." The Book of Job "is admitted, with hardly a dissenting voice, to be the most sublime religious poem in the literature of the world," said Samuel Cox. "I call that one of the grandest things ever written with pen....There is nothing written, in the Bible and out of it, of equal literary merit," said Thomas Carlisle.
Whoever was used of God as the penman, his name is not given. The book is introduced with a prose narrative of Job's losses and sufferings, and of his patient endurance, then follow the poetic colloquies between Job and his three friends, then Elihu's argument, then the Almighty's address, then Job's confession. The conclusion, relating Job's return to favor and blessing, and his death, is in prose.
Some have assumed that the Book of Job is merely a parable and Job himself, therefore, merely an imaginary character. But if this were the case, the teachings of the book would not be different. However, we see no cause to doubt that such a person did live and pass through the experiences related. In Ezek. 14:14 and James 5:11, Job is classed with other holy men, which would not be the case were [R1505 : page 91] this narrative merely a parable. Besides, there are particular details given (respecting Job, his family and friends, and especially Elihu's genealogy), such as are not common to parables.
The fact that Job lived one hundred and forty years after his adversities, or in all probably over two hundred years, together with the fact that neither he nor his friends make any allusion to Israel or Moses or the Law, nor to Abraham and God's covenant made with him, seems to indicate beyond doubt that he belonged to the Patriarchal age; possibly living about the same time as Abraham. His home was evidently in Arabia and probably not far from Palestine.
Job is introduced as a man of great learning and influence; as a man of great piety who knew and reverenced God and appreciated justice; as a man of great generosity, who considered the widow and the orphaned; and as a merchant-prince of great wealth, who, by his numerous servants and three hundred camels, carried on an extended and very prosperous traffic. Suddenly disaster came upon him and he was bereft of his children, his wealth, his influence and his health. He sought in vain for an explanation as to why God should permit such evils to befall him, yet still trusted in God, saying, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him," – while his wife urged that it had been without divine appreciation that he had sought to do justice and mercy all his life, and exclaimed, "Curse God and die!"
His three friends came to visit him, and, taking much the same view, told him in lengthy argument that he must have been a great sinner and a hypocrite. But, conscious of his own heart-honesty toward God, Job defends himself and goes to too great an extreme in declaring his innocence, but silences his critics. He seems to realize his need of some one to represent his cause before the Lord, and cries out that he is as righteous as he knows how to be; that he cannot reason the matter with God, being so much beneath him in knowledge and power; that the wilfully wicked are not so troubled, while he who has pursued righteousness is so afflicted that life has no further pleasure and he wishes he had never been born. (Chapters 9, 10 and 16.) Feeling his own insufficiency [R1506 : page 91] to state his case before the great Jehovah he desires "a days-man [i.e., a mediator] betwixt" God and himself. – Chapters 9:33; 16:21.
Job's masterly reply to the false reasonings of his friends (which many improperly quote as inspired), and his expressions of confidence in God and of his ultimate deliverance, are clearly presented in Chapter 13:1-16. And then with prophetic wisdom, in Chapter 14, he presents a most wonderful statement of the course of God's dealing with mankind.
The question which perplexed Job and confused his reasonings was the same that for centuries has confused others of God's people; namely, Why does God permit evil (calamities, afflictions, etc.) to come upon his faithful servants? and why are the wicked permitted to flourish? But not until the Gospel dispensation was it possible for any to know the mind of God on this subject; for it is one of the "deep things" which could only be revealed by the Spirit of God, and only to those begotten of that spirit as Paul explains. (1 Cor. 2:10-14.) And the Holy Spirit was not thus given, as a guide and teacher, until after Christ had redeemed us and ascended up on high, there to present his sacrifice as the price of our return to divine favor, peace and communion.
Although many are still in the dark on this subject, it is now open and clear to all the earnest ones to whom "it is granted to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven," to understand "the deep things of God." (Matt. 13:11; 1 Cor. 2:10.) These see that the reign of evil, the reign of sin and death, under Satan, the prince of this world, is permitted for two reasons: first, that all men may gain a full experience of the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the bitterness of its legitimate fruit; and secondly, that God's people may be fully tried and tested as to their loyalty to God in the shadow of affliction and trial, as well as in the sunshine of health and prosperity. Thus, while God did not directly cause the evil state of things which surrounds us in nature and among men, but let it come upon men as the legitimate result [R1506 : page 92] or fruit of disobedience, sin, yet he does make use of even the wrath of man and the sins of men and the animosity of Satan to work out grand designs which they do not comprehend, and of which his children know only by faith in his Word of revelation. For instance, how little did Satan and those malicious Jewish priests and Pharisees and those heartless Roman soldiers know that they were assisting in the working out of the divine plan when tempting, mocking, insulting and crucifying the Lamb of God! And so it is with the many afflictions of God's people – especially those of the "little flock," "the bride of Christ," – they are designed to fit and polish them for the greater usefulness and honor in the future developments of God's great plan; and thus, regardless of the wilfulness or the ignorance of the persecutors, these trials of faith and patience are working out for such a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory – preparing the called ones to be heirs of glory, by cultivating (in those who are properly exercised by such experiences), patience, experience, brotherly sympathy and love – which is God-like-ness. Such, and such only, can rejoice in tribulation and realize that all things (bad, as well as good, unfavorable, as well as favorable) will be overruled in God's providence for their ultimate benefit.
But, returning to our consideration of Job, let us note in Chapter 14 some of his prophetic wisdom. The first four verses graphically picture what all of experience realize – that human life under present conditions is full of trial and sorrow, from the cradle to the tomb. And Job shows that he realizes that as a son of fallen parentage he could not be perfect, free from sin, "clean," in the full sense of that word.
In verses 5,6, he tells the Lord that he recognizes the fact that the authority and power to limit man's days are in his hands, but urges (not seeing the ministry of trouble), Why not let me and all men live out our short time in peace – even as we would not afflict a hireling who already has a heavy, burdensome task!
Verses 7-10 are close reasonings respecting the utter hopelessness of man in death, so far as any powers of his own are concerned. A tree may die and yet its root retain life, which, under favorable conditions may spring up into another tree. But when man dies there is no root left, no spark of life remains – he giveth up the spirit of life, and where is he?
Having confessed that there is no ground for hope inherent in man, Job begins to express the only, the real hope of our race – a resurrection – see verses 12,13. Man lies down in death and loses all power to arouse himself – nor can he be resuscitated from the sleep of death by anyone, until God's due time – the resurrection morning, the Millennial day – when the present symbolic "heavens" shall have passed away, and the "new heavens" or new spiritual ruling power – Christ's Kingdom – shall have come into control of the world. In this Job fully agrees with the teachings of our Lord and the apostles.
The more he thinks of that blessed time when evil shall no more have dominion, but when a King shall reign in righteousness and princes execute judgment, the more he wishes that he might die and be at rest, and exclaims (verse 13), "Oh, that thou would'st hide me in the grave [sheol]; that thou would'st keep me secret [hidden] until thy wrath be past; that thou would'st appoint me a set time and remember me." Job had faith in a resurrection, else he would never have uttered this prayer for death, – for hiding in the grave. But he preferred death, and desired to "sleep" (verse 12) until the "morning," for one reason only – that he might have no further experience with sin and with God's wrath – evil.
While a short period in the end of the Gospel age is specially called "the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God," because it will be "A time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation," yet the entire period from the time when Adam fell is called a time of divine wrath, and properly so, because in all this long period "the wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness," in a variety of ways. While love is a controlling principle in the divine government, it can operate only in harmony with justice and wisdom; and it was both just and wise to let man feel the real weight of condemnation to death [R1506 : page 93] incurred by wilful transgression, in order that when love should in due time provide a ransom and a resurrection, the culprit might the more gladly avail himself of the provided favors of restitution and everlasting life. Thus, death and all the evils now permitted to come upon the culprit race (in which also the "new creatures in Christ" are given a share, for their development in grace) are manifestations of God's wrath which will be yet further shown in the great time of trouble; to be followed by full and clear manifestations of divine love and favor in Christ and the glorified Church during the Millennial age. – Rom. 1:18.
Job desired to be hidden in the grave until the reign of sin and death should be ended; – until in due time the light of the goodness of God, shining in the face of Jesus Christ, our Lord, shall bless all nations; – until, as the Sun of Righteousness, Christ shall shine upon humanity with healing beams. It was for this culmination that Job longed and prayed and waited.
In verses 14 and 15, he puts the question pointedly, as though to determine and settle his faith; but he immediately answers affirmatively. "Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee [and awake out of the sleep of Adamic death. Compare John 5:28,29]: Thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands" – for his people are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus. – Eph. 2:10.
When Job had refuted the arguments of his three friends, Elihu (whose name signifies, God himself) spoke from a different standpoint, reproving the three friends as well as Job himself. Elihu shows Job that he had been reasoning in part from a wrong premise – that he must not expect to fully comprehend all the ways of one so far above him, but must trust in God's justice and in his wisdom. And in Chapter 33:23,24 he shows the one thing needful to man's recovery from the power of death and his restoration to divine favor, saying, "If there be with him a messenger as defender, one of a thousand [i.e., a rare one] to declare his own righteousness for man, then will God be gracious unto him [man] and say, Release him from going down to the grave: I have found a ransom."
This is indeed the case with man. God's wisdom and justice cannot be impugned – the sentence of death is justly upon all men through father Adam (Rom. 5:12), but God has provided us "a days-man," an advocate, Christ Jesus our Lord; and he, in harmony with the Father's plan, became a man, and then gave himself a ransom-price for all by paying the death-penalty that was upon Adam. And as soon as "the bride," otherwise called "his body" and "the temple," is complete, this great Mediator will stand forward to declare his righteousness as for or applicable to every one who will accept it when brought to a full knowledge of God's provision.
Then will follow restitution, as pictured in verses 25 and 26. Physically these for whom the Mediator stands shall be restored to a perennial youth, in which death and decay will find no place: they shall find acceptance and communion with God in joy and peace; and he will restore to them the original perfection lost through sin in Eden. But an acknowledgment of God's justice and that the restitution was unmerited will be required as is indicated by verses 27,28: "He will chant it before men, and say: I have sinned and perverted the right; and it was not requited me. He has redeemed my soul from going into the pit and [R1507 : page 93] my life that it may be brought to the light."
In conclusion Jehovah addresses Job, reproving his temerity in attempting, with his little knowledge, to judge God. This Job acknowledges, and finds peace in trusting God. Job's three friends, however, are severely reproved by God; but when their sacrifice is offered for them by Job they are restored to divine favor, while at once Job's prosperity returns – his friends and influence, the same number of children as before, and his wealth exactly doubled, – for he had twice as many flocks and herds and camels.
This ending of Job's career with a general restitution, is incomprehensible to those who have never seen that the plan of God in Christ provides for a time of restitution of all things lost in Adam, to all of his race who will accept them under the terms of the New Covenant. (Acts 3:19-21.) But those who do see this plan of God can readily see, too, that Job's experience [R1507 : page 94] was not only actual, but also typical. He seems to represent mankind. Man was at first in divine likeness and favor with all things made subject to him. (Psa. 8:4-8.) Because of Adam's sin Satan* obtained an influence in human affairs which has resulted in degradation, sickness and death; but God has never really forsaken his creatures, and is even now waiting to be gracious unto all in and through Christ Jesus our Lord.
II. QUAR., LESSON II., APRIL 9, JOB 5:17-27.
This lesson is from the words of Eliphaz, whom God reproved for speaking unadvisedly according to human philosophy. It was his own wisdom as expressed in verse 27. The same false impressions prevail in many minds, dark respecting God's dealings with his children. The Golden Text expresses the true view. page 94
II. QUAR., LESSON III., APRIL 16, JOB 23:1-10.
II. QUAR., LESSON IV., APRIL 23, JOB 42:1-10.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – How grateful I feel that the Lord has brought me the precious "meat in due season;" and, in common with many of the other dear ones of the household, I love to feast upon these inspiring truths. But I am beginning more and more to see the grave responsibility connected with the entrusting of the Lord's truth to us in this testing time; and what a testing time it indeed is! How some are falling away on the right hand and on the left! Well might the prophet, referring to this day – the day of his wrath now beginning – exclaim, "Who shall be able to stand?" But, praise the name of the Lord, if our feet are planted squarely on the Rock, Christ Jesus and his ransom, none of these things will be able to move us; and though a thousand may fall at our side, it shall not come near us, for the "everlasting arms shall be underneath us."
The Lord has graciously brought us "out of darkness into his marvelous light;" but unless our dying in the Lord is complete, with self and selfish ambitions buried, the tendency will be, as it too often is, to think we know even more than God has revealed, and to go beyond the limit of his Word and his glorious plan. "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip." – Heb. 2:1.
But it can be only a little while longer before our time is ended. Let us pray the Lord to help our feet onward in the narrow way, that we stumble not nor fall, and, being "diligent, may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless." Take courage, then! "Let us lift up our heads, for our redemption draweth nigh." Pray for your brother who sometimes is weak and tempted, as I make mention of you in my prayers – "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him." – Eph. 1:16,17.
Yours in his name,
TOWER PUBLISHING CO., DEAR BRETHREN: – Having withdrawn my subscriptions from all so-called orthodox institutions, I feel that I can give to the "Good Hopes" Fund $25.00 a month, as my offering for the spread of the truth that has done so much for me. Not having many talents in other directions, I want to use this one to my full extent. The "Evil One" tries to make me think that I can not afford it; but as all I [R1507 : page 95] have belongs to him who died for me, it is but giving back to him that which is his.
Occasionally I have an opportunity to speak for the truth, but in most cases find a very deep seated prejudice against it, though from what I, at times, hear about it, the stand we have taken has made many Christian people think. The other day a friend asked me to subscribe to a Methodist missionary box, but I refused to do so, and thus made an opportunity to speak to her about the truth. She seemed quite interested, and said that when she had heard of my course she was astonished, I being the last one she would have thought of as leaving the church; but when she heard the reasons, she was far more charitable, and said that I was much misunderstood.
Believe me, your brother in the faith once delivered to the saints.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I am one of the many readers of your valuable paper, and still want it as an aid to help me along the "narrow way;" for it ever comes freighted with sweet ministries of religion, and is indeed "meat in due season" – giving strength to all those who would walk therein with earnest consecration.
I may say that for the last two years it has been a sorrowful way for me; for it has brought me many afflictions. When the bitter cup was pressed to my lips, I found it hard to bring the prayer of my fainting heart to God, and say submissively, "Thy will be done." And lest this situation bring temptations, I feel I must be active, if I would have God still feed my hungry soul with heavenly manna. I have always believed that Christians owe their fullest love and service to Him who gave himself as our ransom-price: but I cannot say this has been my experience, specially in regard to service, for I have been too easily satisfied to sit quietly down and let the spirit of God work in my heart, satisfying myself with ardent expressions and songs and prayers, and have put aside the stern realities of a life with Christ. I often read the experience of Paul as told by himself, and say, This is the school by which he reached that true experience which worketh hope, which maketh not ashamed; while I cannot say I "glory in tribulation," for I have not been "zealously affected always in good things," or "gloried in the cross of our Lord Jesus with humbleness of mind and meekness." And now that a chastening hand has shown me the measure of my weakness and my unproven Christian life, my soul is longing for something better. I do want the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ; I do want to retain that robe of righteousness which Christ gives to all his chosen ones; and I am resting my hope on his finished work and unchanging love.
I wonder if I could be of advantage to the cause of truth as a colporteur. Situated as I now am, I can give all my time to this specially useful service. I do not want to make any mistake, but to make the work a success, and will abide by the judgment of the Tract Society as to whether I would best enter this field of service. I have never done such work, and do not know that I am adapted to it, but I realize the responsibility of this harvest time, and am willing to lay this in God's hand, believing he will guide and give spiritual discernment.
And now I want to say that the truth as set forth in the MILLENNIAL DAWN series is wonderful and glorious to me; and I am glad to acknowledge the strength and grace I have derived from reading and studying the three volumes.
May God bless you all for showing the religion of Jesus Christ in so cheering a light – the hopes and promises it sets before all, the patience and resignation it inspires under affliction. I believe it is Scriptural to request the prayers of God's people, and I need this help. Pray for me, and for all the afflicted ones.
In Christian love,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Owing to a combination of circumstances it has been some time since I last wrote you. As soon as I received the five sets of DAWNS, I began to distribute them where I thought they would do the most good. So far, there has not been a dissenting voice among all who have read them. One friend was so pleased with Vol. I that he asked for Vols. II. and III., and said that, if he were a minister, he would sever his connection with all ecclesiastical organizations, and preach the doctrine taught in those books.
In a prayer meeting recently the question was asked, "What penalty did Adam and Eve suffer for their sin? or, were they eternally damned?" A physician present, who [R1507 : page 96] also has been reading, replied in the sentiment of DAWN, causing no little confusion, which did not end there, nor has it ended yet.
The pastor was informed of the episode, and inquired of the physician where he got those books, and was told that I put them into his hand. This raised a war-cloud against me, but I have already committed myself, and, unless shown that I am wrong, I will never retract a single word. I do not know what it will cost me, but I am satisfied that, whatever the cost, the good Lord will foot the bill.
DEAR BROTHER: – My report for the week ending to-day is fifty-two DAWNS, fourteen Booklets and five Bibles, No. 307 – a little better showing than last week. My work here has not been very profitable financially, yet I trust that I will receive my reward in "that day," that every thing done (though little) will result in good to the Master's cause, and that the great Reaper will be pleased with his servant's work.
Yours in the Lord,
DEAR BROTHER: – Enclosed please find $1.00 for the TOWER. The "Old Theology" is ever new! In the middle of this day and the crotchety utterances of "advanced theological thought" (?), how blessed to have a gospel that is bolted, riveted and clinched – by divine truth – to the eternal throne! "Behold, I thought," said Naaman; and so it has been with many: They "think" – but to what purpose? They continually say, "Abana and Pharpar are better than the waters of Israel." Better or not better is not the question. Obedience is the subject in hand – not metaphysics, not philosophy, not speculation! Platonic religion is not Christianity.
MY DEAR BRETHREN: – In December last I received through your colporteur the three published volumes of the MILLENNIAL DAWN series, for which I desire to express my deepest gratitude. Since then they have been my constant study. They came in due time to a mind prepared by the spirit for the reception of the great light therein contained. The outlines of the first two volumes were grasped as quickly as the facts could be verified from the written Word of God, and now they are proving, together with the precious third volume, truly a "helping hand in Bible Study." The requirements in the remark of Ralph Waldo Emerson, that "The value of a principle is the number of things it will explain; and there is no good theory of disease which does not at once suggest a cure," are most fully satisfied in these volumes. The truths now due illuminate every page of the Holy Scriptures, and the plan of God daily becomes clearer.
For some years the Lord has shown me that the nominal church had become a great social organization, filled with the spirit of this world, in which the truth-hungry soul sought in vain for growth in the knowledge of Christ. My friends and relatives (with the exception of my dear wife) have been greatly distressed and very angry with me for expressing my belief that the nominal church was not the body of Christ, that her days were numbered, and that very shortly she would become a thing of the past. I did not see the prophecies relative to this matter, but the fact became firmly established in my mind.
For some eighteen months past I have been patiently waiting, watching and praying for a message from on High; and during this time the conviction was deepening that more light would be sent, together with a message to go to work in the vineyard. I thank God that this light has now come and with it also the message looked for. My only desire now is to be permitted to help spread the glorious tidings that "the Lord reigneth," to be one of the "feet," to give my life to this most important of all work. I observe in Mr. Russell's preface to the third volume of the MILLENNIAL DAWN series that you make arrangements to send out colporteurs, and I wish to have the opportunity of being one of them. Every day I seem to hear the Lord saying to me, "Give yourself entirely to me and my work. What have you to do with the things of this world? You are not of it, you have now no interest in the aims and ambitions of worldly men that you should be found in their service." My wife is one of the covenanted ones and is also desirous of working for the Saviour. I observe that your conditions for this service are just what our Lord Jesus himself requires of his own, of those who would be his disciples indeed, namely, entire consecration to do his work, even unto death. It is unnecessary to say that I am willing to go wherever I may be sent, and to carry the message in the way that your experience suggests. The whole matter now rests in the Lord's direction; for "without me ye can do nothing."
Your servant in Christ,