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We again remind those who are trusting in the precious blood of the propriety and profit of celebrating our dear Redeemer's death upon its anniversary, after the example of the early Church, – this year on Thursday evening, April 19th, after 6 P.M. See particulars in TOWER of March 1, 1894. We also repeat our suggestion that the little groups be supported – that the abler ones do not forsake their brethren at home to attend the Allegheny meeting or any other.
Meet at 7.30 P.M. Open with a hymn and a prayer. Then explain the import of the Memorial Supper and its type, the Passover supper. Then explain (or read from this TOWER) the import of the bread. Then have a prayer of thanks for the bread. Then pass it to all the believers. Next speak of the import of the "cup" as an emblem (or read from TOWER). Then let some one offer prayer and thanks specially for the blessings represented in the "cup." Then pass it to those who commune. Close with a hymn, and disperse (without gossip) with your minds resting upon the remarkable events which followed the first memorial – Gethsemane, Pilate's court, Herod's soldiers, and Calvary.
We are always glad to receive lists of addresses of persons likely to be interested in the truth – good people, honest people, regardless of church-membership. Send all you can that we may send them reading matter – Old Theology Tracts, Sample TOWERS, etc.
We have inquiry from some as to what they would best do when others ask them for addresses of WATCH TOWER subscribers. We answer, You would best not comply with such requests. You do not know what use may be made of them. You do not know but what some kind of poison might thus be administered to some "babe" in Christ, for whose injury you would thus be partially responsible. When you send us names, you know the kind of reading matter we intend sending. It is only those who know what we publish and who agree with the same that we invite to send us addresses.
"If you have read and failed to comprehend a publication, do not suppose your mind incapable of grasping anything so deep and complex, and then proceed to circulate it among others; but conclude that if you have not the mental capacity to understand it, your safest plan will be not to run the risk of choking any one else with it."
We reply: that whoever has not had satisfactory evidence of the general truth of the BIBLE, the DAWNS and the TOWERS should not circulate them. Everyone should have a conscience and no one should be asked or expected to violate his conscience, in the interest of any theory, person or publication.
Emperor William of Germany recently described the Czar of Russia as "a prince of peace like myself." The true Prince of Peace will very soon conquer a peace that will last a thousand years, without ten millions of soldiers to maintain it. He will use the present "powers that be" in overthrowing and conquering each other, – shortly.
|VOL. XV.||APRIL 1, 1894.||NO. 7.|
WHEN announcing the date of the Memorial Supper and stating our reasons for its yearly commemoration, in our issue of March 1, we promised that in this issue we would examine briefly the import of the emblems used to represent the body and blood of our Redeemer.
Of the bread our Lord said: "This is my flesh;" – that is to say, the unleavened bread represents his flesh, his humanity, which was broken or sacrificed for us. Unless he had sacrificed himself for us, we could never have everlasting life, as he said: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood ye have no life in you." – John 6:53.
Not only was the breaking of Jesus' body thus to provide bread of life, of which if a man eat he shall never die, but it also opened the "narrow way" to life, and broke or unsealed and gave us access to the truth, spiritual food, as an aid to walk the narrow way which leads to life. And thus we see that the broken loaf fitly represented the breaking of him who said, "I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE; no man cometh unto the Father but by ME." – John 14:6.
Hence, when we eat of the broken loaf, we should realize that had he not died – been broken – for us we would never have been able to come to the Father, but would have remained forever under the curse of Adamic sin and in the bondage of death.
Another thought: the bread used was unleavened. Leaven is corruption, an element of decay, hence a type of sin, and the decay and death which sin works in mankind. So, then, this symbol declares that our Lord Jesus was free from sin, a lamb without spot or blemish, "holy, harmless, undefiled." Had he been of Adamic stock, had he received his life in the usual way from any earthly father, he, too, would have been leavened with Adamic sin, as are all other men; but his life came unblemished from a higher, heavenly nature, changed to earthly conditions; hence he is called the "bread from heaven." (John 6:41.) Let us then appreciate the pure, unleavened, undefiled bread which God has provided, and so let us eat of him – by eating and digesting the truth, and especially this truth – appropriating to ourselves, by faith, his righteousness; and let us [R1637 : page 99] recognize him as both the way and the life.
The Apostle, by divine revelation, communicates to us a further meaning in this remembrancer. He shows that not only did the loaf represent our Lord Jesus, individually, but that after we have thus partaken of him (after we have been justified by appropriating his righteousness), we, by consecration, become associated with him as part of the one broken loaf – food for the world. (1 Cor. 10:16.) This suggests the thought of our privilege as justified believers to share now in the sufferings and death of Christ, the condition upon which we may become joint-heirs with him of future glories, and associates in the great work of blessing and giving life to all the families of the earth. [R1637 : page 100]
This same thought is expressed by the Apostle repeatedly and under various figures, but none of them more forceful than this, that the Church, as a whole, is the "one loaf" now being broken. It is a striking illustration of our union and fellowship with our Head.
We quote: "Because there is one loaf, we, the many [persons] are one body; for we all partake of the one loaf." "The loaf which we break, is it not a participation of the body of the Anointed one?" – 1 Cor. 10:16,17. – Diaglott.
The "fruit of the vine" represents the sacrificed life given by our Lord. "This is my blood [symbol of life given up in death] of the new covenant, shed for many, FOR THE REMISSION of sins." "Drink ye all of it." – Matt. 26:27,28.
It was by the giving up of his life as a ransom for the life of the Adamic race, which sin had forfeited, that a right to LIFE may come to men through faith and obedience under the New Covenant. (Rom. 5:18,19.) The shed blood was the "ransom [price] for ALL," which was paid for all by our Redeemer himself; but his act of handing the cup to the disciples, and asking them to drink of it, was an invitation to them to become partakers of his sufferings, or, as Paul expresses it, to "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ." (Col. 1:24.) It was the offer to us that if we, after being justified by faith, voluntarily partake of the sufferings of Christ, by espousing his cause, it will be reckoned to us as though we had part in his sacrifice. "The cup of blessing, for which we bless God, is it not a participation of the blood [shed blood – death] of the Anointed one?" (1 Cor. 10:16. – Diaglott.) Would that we all might realize the value of the "cup," and could bless God for an opportunity of sharing with Christ his "cup" of sufferings and shame: all such may be assured that they will also be glorified together with him. – Rom. 8:17.
Our Lord also attached this significance to the "cup," indicating that it signified our participation in his dishonor, our share in his sacrifice – the death of our humanity. For instance, when asked by two of his disciples for a promise of future glory in his throne, he answered them: "Ye know not what ye ask; are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?" On their hearty avowal he answered, "Ye shall indeed drink of my cup." The juice of the grape not only speaks of the crushing of the grape till blood comes forth, but it also speaks of an after refreshment; and so we who now share the "sufferings of Christ" shall shortly share also his glories, honors and immortality – when we drink the new wine with him in the Kingdom.
Let us then, dearly beloved, as we on the evening of the 19th inst. commemorate our Lord's death, call to mind the meaning of what we do; and being invigorated with his life, and strengthened by the living bread, let us drink with him into his death, and go forth more determined than ever to be broken with him for the feeding of others. "For if we be dead with him we shall live with him; if we suffer we shall also reign with him." – 2 Tim. 2:11,12.
It is left open for each to decide for himself whether he has or has not the right to partake of this bread and this cup. If he professes to be a disciple, trusting in the blood of the New Covenant, for forgiveness of sins, and consecrated to the Lord's service, his fellow disciples may not judge his heart. God alone can read that with positiveness.
Because of their symbolism of the death of Christ, therefore let all beware of partaking of these emblems ignorantly, unworthily, improperly – not recognizing in them "the Lord's body" as our ransom, for in such a case the partaker would be as one of those who murdered the Lord and would, in symbol, "be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." 1 Cor. 11:27.
"But let a man examine himself:" let him see to it that in partaking of the emblems he realizes them as the ransom-price of his life and privileges, and furthermore that he by partaking of them is pledging himself to share in the sufferings of Christ and be broken for others; otherwise, his act of commemoration will [R1637 : page 101] be a condemnation to his daily life before his own conscience – "condemnation to himself." – 1 Cor. 11:28,29.
Through lack of proper appreciation of this remembrancer, which symbolizes not only our justification, but also our consecration, to share in the sufferings and death of Christ, the Apostle says, "Many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." (1 Cor. 11:30.) The truth of this remark is evident: a failure to appreciate and a losing sight of the truths represented in this Supper are the cause of the weak, sickly and sleepy condition of the church nominal. Nothing so fully awakens and strengthens the saints as a clear appreciation of the ransom sacrifice and of their share with their Lord in his sufferings and sacrifice for the world. "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup."
SOME feel that the feet-washing mentioned in John 13:4-17, is as important as the Memorial Supper; and hence we will here consider the subject: although only one of the Evangelists remembered to even mention it.
In Eastern countries, where sandals were worn, and the feet thus exposed to sand and dust, feet-washing was a regular custom, and an actual necessity. This service was considered very menial, and the humblest servants or slaves performed it for the family and guests.
Our Lord had noticed among his disciples a spirit of selfishness; he had overheard them disputing which of them should be greatest in authority and dignity in the Kingdom he had promised to share with them; and, foreseeing that this spirit would injure them in proportion as it grew and strengthened, he had rebuked them for their lack of humility. So indeed it did, in the fourth to the sixth centuries, blossom and yield bitter fruit, in the organization of Papacy, and the train of evils and errors which still flow from that impure fountain.
To illustrate the proper spirit which should characterize all who would be his disciples, he took a little child and set him in the midst, and said, Except ye become (artless and simple) as a little child, you are not fit for the Kingdom for which I am calling you. Ye know how the Gentiles lord it over one another, and recognize caste and station, but it must not be so with you. Ye have but one Master, and all ye are brethren; and he that would be chief, let him become chief servant. (Mark 10:35-43.) They who serve you most, you must mark as your chief ones. I am the chief servant myself; for the Son of man came not to be served by others, and honored thus, but he came to serve others, even to the extent of giving his life in their service. As therefore my greatest service toward you renders me your chief, so shall it be among you. Esteem and honor one another in proportion as you find in each other unselfish sacrificing love and service. Esteem such very highly for their works' sake. – 1 Thes. 5:13.
But for all this, the spirit of pride and a desire to "lord it" over others, and be reverenced as chief, was there, even after three years and a half spent with the Master, and under his example; and as he was about to leave them, Jesus sought, even on the last evening with them, to impress this lesson indelibly upon their hearts. So, after the Passover Supper, he arose from the table and performed for his disciples the most menial service, in washing their feet. They probably had not even thought of performing such a service for each other or for him, and even had consideration enough to object to his thus serving them in so humble a manner.
When Jesus had finished, he said to them, "Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord, and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither is he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do [R1637 : page 102] them." If you understand and appreciate the lesson I have given you, and will practice it, you will be blessed thereby, helped in my service, and prepared for the Kingdom in which I have promised you a share. – John 13:4-17.
That the lesson had its designed effect we can scarcely doubt, as we look at the course of several of the apostles, and see how, with much self denial, they served the body of Christ, of which they were fellow-members, following the example of the Head, who was chief servant of all.
The question arises, What did the Lord mean when he said, "I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done?" Was the example in the principle, in the lesson of service one toward another? Or was the example in the method of service, in the ceremony of feet-washing? To suppose the latter would be to hide the real lesson under a form. And if the example were in the form, then every item of the form should be observed: an upper room; a supper; sandals should be worn; the same kind of garments; the towel girdle; etc. But no: the "example" which we should follow lay in the humble serving of the disciples by the Master, regardless of form. His example of serving the fellow-members in even the most menial manner is what we should follow – and blessed will we be, in proportion as we do follow it. In that proportion we shall be prepared for the everlasting Kingdom and service of God.
Those now living in Eastern countries, where sandals are still worn, may find an opportunity now to follow the example, the same form which the Master used, as well as other forms; and those differently circumstanced may follow the "example" in a thousand forms. Some of the fellow-disciples probably live in your city and in mine. How can we serve them? How can we refresh them? How can we show them our love and sympathy according to the Lord's "example?" Not in this climate by washing their feet – this would be an inconvenience, the very reverse of a pleasure and service to them, and therefore contrary to the "example." But we can serve the "body" otherwise, and truly follow the example. We can improve our various opportunities to serve them in matters temporal as well as spiritual. We can be on the lookout, and when we see sadness or discouragement, we can lend a helping hand to lift our brother's burdens, or our sister's sorrows, and we can let them see by deeds, as well as words, our anxiety to serve them – figuratively speaking, to wash their feet.
Do not wait until they request your assistance; for in proportion as they are developed disciples, they will not ask your aid. Do not wait until they tell you of their burdens and trials, but watch to anticipate; for in proportion as they partake of the Master's spirit, they will not be complainers, but will live "always rejoicing" – rejoicing even in tribulations.
Be not ashamed of such service of the "body," but seek it and rejoice in it – "ye do serve the Lord, Christ." But still more important than temporal service is our service one of another as "new creatures."
The washing of the body with the truth – the sanctifying and cleansing of it with the word – is in progress now. (Eph. 5:26,27.) What are you doing to cleanse and purify the faith and lives of your fellow members? Do you approach them humbly with the truth, sincerely anxious to serve them, to bless and comfort and refresh them therewith? If so, go on; grand is your service; the Master served thus; this is his example; follow on. The more you can thus serve, and at the greater cost of time, and effort, and convenience, and self-interest, the greater will you be in the eyes of the Master, and the more honored and beloved of the body when they shall come to see and know you, as the Lord sees and knows your love and service.
Follow closely, then, the noble "example" of Jesus: wash and be washed one of another, cleanse and purge away the defilements with which each comes daily in contact in the world, that ye may be clean, "through the word spoken unto you." Purge out the old leaven of hypocrisy, and envy, and self-exaltation, even as ye have already been justified from all things and reckoned pure and holy by the merit of the precious blood which the chief servant and Lord of all gave for all. – 2 Tim. 2:20,21.
"Judge this, rather, that no man put a stumbling-block, or an occasion to fall, in his brother's way." "He shall give his angels [messengers, servants] charge over thee; ...they shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." – Rom. 14:13; Psa. 91:11,12.EVERY gathering of the saints, even of two or three, is an assembling of the members of the body of Christ. So that the entire number of saints in the world to-day, or in any day, represents the one body; and yet the entire body is but one. Looked at still another way, we see the head first, and the succeeding members following in order, leaving those members of Christ who are alive and remain unto the presence of the Lord to represent the last members – the feet.
It is to these that the prophet refers above: not to the literal feet of Jesus, but the feet members of his body. (Many improperly accept Satan's interpretation of this passage, notwithstanding Jesus' rejection of it – Matt. 4:6,7.) The prophet makes the statement that the Lord will make special provision for the help and support of the "feet," just after giving a description of the evil day which the "feet" class will experience – the dark day, when the arrows of error will fly thick and fast; when the pestilence of Infidelity will stalk abroad; when all, except the "feet" class, shall fall – thousands on every hand. The question will no longer be, Who will fall? but, "Who shall be able to stand?" These, the real feet members, shall not fall; these shall have special help; God will send them messengers, whom he will specially instruct or charge that his will shall be accomplished, and the true overcomers be upheld, and neither stumble nor fall.
Blessed assurance! cause for trust and confidence, that if we abide under the protection with which he has covered us, we shall be safe and come off conquerors, and more than conquerors, through him who loved us and washed us in his own precious blood. But the thought specially in mind is this: Not only are those who scatter the pestilence, and shoot out the arrows of error, and cast stumbling-blocks in the way, men in the flesh, but those messengers whom God will use to bear up the "feet," and keep them from falling, are also human agents. Both classes are servants – serving some cause, either of truth or error; serving some master – the God of truth, or Satan, the father of lies and errors. No matter whose uniform we wear, his servants we are to whom we render service. If Satan can get into the service of error those who profess to serve the Lord, he is the more pleased, and the more successful in reaching others of the same class. As the Apostle advised us, so we find it in this evil day – the ministers or messengers or servants of error will appear as messengers of light, and their influence will thereby be the greater; and all not fixed upon the rock foundation of Christian hope will be sure to fall. All not protected by the armor which God's Word supplies are sure to fall pierced with the arrows of error.
Of two things then be assured: – We each must serve one side or the other in this battle of the great day of God Almighty, which has to the Church a different phase from that in which it will present itself to the world. Our strife is with spiritual adversaries, a battle between truth and error on religious subjects, while there is a conflict also between right and wrong, truth and error, as relates to political and temporal affairs. On which side are you serving? Are you scattering error by words of your own, or reading matter, or in other ways doing that which will smite down and stumble your fellow pilgrims? or are you giving the more earnest heed to the special "charge" God has given us regarding the dangers and pitfalls of this day? and are you thus "bearing up" the fellow members of the body – the feet? Are you earnest in rightly dividing the word of truth? and are you careful to put before others only that which you have thoroughly examined and proved to the extent of your ability by the Word of God? Are you one of Satan's messengers, being used of him to overthrow the faith of some, and to remove "the feet" from the grand rock of faith – the ransom? or are you rendering yourselves as servants of righteousness and messengers of God, [R1637 : page 104] serving and blessing the feet? If the one, you are stumbling and defiling the "feet;" if the other, you are bearing up and "washing" the "feet."
True, the errors will test the armor of each, whether you shoot any of them or not; and it is also true that the "feet" shall be borne up and not dashed, whether you assist or not; but the question is none the less important to each of us, and will demonstrate our own faithfulness or unfaithfulness, our own worthiness or unworthiness to be members of the feet class of the body.
Blessed shall be that servant whom the Lord shall find giving meat in due season, to the household of faith. (Matt. 24:45,46.) Such, as messengers of God, are serving, strengthening and bearing up the "feet" of Christ. The same thought is beautifully expressed in Rev. 19:7. The bride makes herself "ready" for the Bridegroom: each member assisting the others results in the preparation of all. Not that we could make ourselves ready of ourselves, but that we aid each other in the cultivation of those traits of character which the Lord has stipulated shall distinguish all who become his joint-heirs. – Rom. 8:29.
Judge – examine yourselves – that none of you "put a stumbling-block, or an occasion to fall, in his brother's way." – Rom. 14:13.
IT seems peculiar that there should be greater liability of falling into sin at one season than at another; but nevertheless we have noticed for several years and have before called to the attention of others the peculiar force of temptations at the time of the Passover, every Spring. Year after year at this season we have noticed special liability of many or all to stumble or be offended. Let us, therefore, take earnest heed to our Lord's words, and earnestly watch and pray for others and for ourselves; and let each one be on his guard not to cast a stumbling-block before his brother. – Rom. 14:13; Heb. 2:1."Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation." – Mark 14:38.
It was at the Passover season that our Lord said, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Then many of his friends and followers said, "This is a hard saying; who can hear it?...and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?" – John 6:4,51,60,66,67.
It was about the Passover season that our Lord said, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." (Matt. 26:38.) "I have a baptism [death] to be baptized with, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished!" – Luke 12:50.
It was about the Passover season that our Lord took the disciples and began to explain unto them that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of the chief priests and scribes and be put to death (Matt. 16:21); and then Peter was tempted to forget that he was the disciple, and took the Lord and began to rebuke him, saying, "Be it far from thee, Lord. This shall not be unto thee." Thus also he tempted our Lord to repudiate his sacrifice, and brought upon himself the rebuke – "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." – Verses 22,23.
It was while met to eat the Passover that the twelve got into a dispute as to which of them should be greatest in the Kingdom. They thus brought upon themselves our Lord's just rebuke, and induced the illustration of humility on his part by the washing of their feet.
It was when they had sung a hymn and gone out from the Passover that our Lord used to them the words at the head of this article, "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation;" while he himself was in an agonizing battle, and with bloody sweat submitting his [R1637 : page 105] will to the will of God; and, praying earnestly, was strengthened. – Luke 22:39-46.
It was but a little later that the emissaries of the High Priest came upon them and the eleven all forsook the Lord and fled (Mark 14:50): the temptation, the fear, they could not resist.
It was but a little later that Peter and John, bolder than the others, went with the crowd into Pilate's court to see what would befall the Master; and Peter, being recognized as one of Christ's disciples, was tempted to deny the Lord with cursing. – Mark 14:68,70,71.
It was at the same time that our Lord was tempted before Pilate, but victoriously "witnessed a good confession." – 1 Tim. 6:13.
The temptations of our Lord followed rapidly. When his foes spat upon him, and crowned him with thorns, and reviled him, saying, "Let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God," he could have smitten them with disease or death; but, as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. He overcame, and prayed for those who despitefully used him. – Luke 23:33-37.
He might even have concluded that he would not be the Redeemer of such thankless beings; but, while realizing that he could even then ask of the Father and receive the assistance of twelve legions of angels and overcome his enemies, he resisted the temptation. He gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
The death of our Lord was a great trial of faith to all the disciples, who straightway were tempted to go again to their old fishing business, and neglect the fishing for men. – John 21:3-17.
In view of all this in the past, as well as in view of our own experience since the present harvest began in 1874, we feel specially solicitous for the Lord's sheep every Spring; and this Spring is no exception. What may be the character of the temptations, we may not clearly discern until they are upon us; for if we knew all about them in advance they would be but slight temptations. Watch, therefore, and pray always; for the only safe way is to be prepared; because your adversary, the devil, is seeking whom he may devour. He knows your weak points, and is ready to take advantage of them. We will each need the graces of the spirit in our hearts, as well as the Lord's "grace to help in time of need" if we would overcome. "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation!"
"My soul, be on thy guard,
Ten thousand foes arise;
The hosts of sin are pressing hard
To draw thee from the prize."
AFTER an expenditure of considerable by the Tract Fund to get the Colporteur work started in Gt. Britain (books, etc., to the retail value of $965.67), we have to announce that Brother Rogers, who went there for the purpose of starting it, has left the colporteur service. He assures us, however, that he has not left the Truth, and that he will still circulate MILLENNIAL DAWN, as he may have opportunity, in his new line of work.
His new plan of labor we cannot approve for several reasons. He describes it as a work of faith. Instead of accepting and using the sale of the DAWNS, as God's provided means for the support of the laborers in the present "harvest," he proposes to rely largely upon collections and donations from the friends. He explained to us that he proposes to work as follows: On going to a city, he will seek for any who are already interested, and expect them to hire a suitable place for preaching and to attend to his financial matters and "see that he lacks nothing," while he preaches orally. Between meetings he will call upon Christian people and talk with them privately about the Truth. If any of them inquire for reading matter on the subject, he proposes to take them the MILLENNIAL DAWN, the profit on the sale of which will go toward defraying his expenses.
Brother Rogers became so infatuated with his [R1637 : page 106] idea, that without even trying the method or writing one word about it he crossed the Atlantic to urge, nay almost to force upon us, the general adoption of this plan, instead of the present Colporteur method, which, together with the Tract work and WATCH TOWER, has been so greatly blessed of the Lord to so many of our readers. He expresses a dislike for the term Colporteur, preferring to be called a minister or preacher. We fear that he is getting ashamed of the method which God seems specially to have used and blessed in the preaching (making known) of present "harvest" truth.
(1) We are opposed to all forms of begging – whether by word, by insinuation, by suggestive hint, by collections, or by going into a Brother's home and sitting down on him until he is forced to say, Move on.
(2) Experience, which is much better than theory, convinces us that the majority of Christian [R1638 : page 106] people are prejudiced against any religious meeting held in a hall, unless they have some knowledge of its character in advance. Consequently, a gathering of representative Christians can not be had in that way. Indeed, we find that Christians who seldom attend Church services of any kind, being prevented by family cares, and some by skepticism, are more often reached by the colporteurs and deeply interested.
(3) It is an expensive method, wasteful of time and money which could be much better spent for the service of the Truth and the praise of the Lord in the colporteur work and Tract circulation. The time spent in seeking a suitable hall and in preparing and delivering discourses, could all be used in colporteuring, and the expense of hall-rent, etc., be saved besides.
(4) The effects of public discourse, soon wear away, because the Scripture proofs are not so well appreciated as from reading, when the quotations, being marked and cited, can be referred to and re-read until fully understood.
(5) In a town with a population of ten thousand, properly colporteured, two or three weeks' effort should dispose of at least four or five hundred DAWNS, and bring it to the attention of all; whereas the proposed plan would bring the Truth to the attention of only a few, probably circulate not above fifty DAWNS, and require much more time and expense. Experience shows that while some of the books sold may awaken no immediate interest, many of them bring forth good fruitage years after. Besides, as Brother Rogers himself has previously remarked, it seems as though the Lord is circulating the reading matter, to select and arm at once the overcoming class now, and the remainder of it to do a similar work for another class to be developed under, and out of, the great tribulation approaching. (Rev. 7:14.) See Brother Rogers' clear statement on this subject in our issue of July '93, page 194.
(6) The method proposed would debar from the privilege of the "harvest" work the majority of those now engaged in it as DAWN colporteurs; for about one-half of the number are sisters, and of the brethren very few have the gift of oratory or any of the qualifications for attracting, interesting and profiting the public by preaching-meetings.
Indeed, Brother Rogers agrees with us and many others of his best friends, that he lacks the talent of a public speaker; but he claims that the less ability he has, the more the Lord will use him in that way. He states that for this reason he never even attempts to prepare a discourse. And a similar course he urges upon others. We, on the contrary, hold that each of the Lord's servants should seek to use the talent which God has given him, as directed in Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:8-11; and that each should study how best to use his talents for the edification of his hearers. – 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Cor. 14:19.
Upon going to London, Brother Rogers started a three months' course of discourses, announcing subjects. Being from America and coming to them as a representative colporteur and instructor of colporteurs, of several years experience, commended to them by us, the WATCH TOWER readers there naturally inferred that his oratorical preaching was part of our arranged program; and when they went to hear him some were greatly disappointed, [R1638 : page 107] and wrote us accordingly. One only recently interested TOWER reader, was quite provoked indeed, and wrote that we must have a very low estimate of the intelligence of our English readers when we sent Brother Rogers as a representative to instruct them; and intimated that not one of his audience could have made a poorer effort as a public speaker. Another wrote, Surely if our dear Brother Rogers has been used of the Lord for the blessing of others, it is not because of eloquence of speech, etc.
We replied privately to these brethren, telling them that they should not judge of Brother Rogers as a servant of the Lord by his ability as a speaker. We assured them that his talent consists in his ability as a colporteur and an instructor and starter of other colporteurs; and that thus his efforts had been greatly used of the Lord to the blessing of many. We assured them that we had not sent him to England as a representative orator of the truth, but as an efficient colporteur, and one, too, who we had every reason to believe held clear views of truth and who was firmly fixed upon the foundation-doctrine of the ransom. We asked that with this explanation they receive and honor Brother Rogers for his colporteur-work's sake (1 Thes. 5:13), and that they encourage his use of the talent he possesses while discouraging his attempt to use a talent which he does not possess so far as his best friends can discern.
Feeling it to be our duty to Brother Rogers, as well as toward the truth, we wrote to him as kind and brotherly a letter as possible, explaining the situation, urging him to specially use his great gift of preaching by the circulation of the printed page, and advising that he turn the remainder of the announced London meetings into Bible Study Meetings and lead them, instead of preaching; and we enclosed some of the correspondence received. We closed the letter with an exhortation that he consider our love for him and our interest in and our appreciation of his service, and referred him to Psa. 141:5.
But the effect was the reverse of what we designed. Whether from a lack of humility or whatever the reason, Brother Rogers concluded that all who did not appreciate his preaching were devoid of spirituality. As he considered the question, he reached the conclusion that he had a mission from God to change the whole program of harvest work: that he should come to Allegheny, and if Brother Russell were not humble enough to accept the Lord's message from him, then he should do all that he could do to stop the other colporteurs from present successful methods and get them started in his untried, theoretical and mendicant method.
He came to Allegheny and stopped with us for ten days, during which time we gave him twenty-four full hours of valuable time, listening to his scheme, and endeavoring to point out its impracticability, telling him we had tried the plan in a general way before the publication of DAWN and TOWER – except that instead of depending upon others to pay the expenses, the Editor paid them himself.
Brother Rogers urged that the Lord had sent forth the early disciples without purse or scrip and had provided for their necessities, and that without books or tracts to sell, and that they lacked nothing. We answered, that God had sent out this "harvest" truth similarly from house to house, and had none the less PROVIDED for the necessities of all who went forth, – although in a different manner.
Brother Rogers urged that it did people good to give; that the WATCH TOWER had failed of its duty in not urging people to give; that the priests of the Jewish age lived upon the charity of the people – their tithes – and referred us to the Apostle Paul's reference to the Law upon the subject in 1 Cor. 9:7-11.
We agreed that people who give most to the Lord's service are most blest, provided they give it of a grateful willing heart; but we pointed out the Apostle's words in the same connection – "Nevertheless, we have not used this power [to demand support]; but [on the contrary] suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ." "I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things that it should be so done unto me." I "make the gospel without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel." (1 Cor. 9:12,15,18.) We also showed that the priests were not permitted [R1638 : page 108] to squeeze the tithes from the people, that the people were free to do as they pleased, although the tenth of all increase was demanded by the Law. All of the consecrated are of the antitypical "royal priesthood" for whom God will provide, and who are to engage somehow in self-sacrifice in God's service. The saints are, therefore, typified by the tithe-takers and not by the tithe-payers; and besides, among them are not many great or rich – chiefly they are of the poor, rich in faith only. We assured him that we believed that we had done our full duty in placing before the consecrated an opportunity to share in the Lord's work through the general fund of the WATCH TOWER TRACT SOCIETY, used for publishing and circulating tracts by the million, to forward the translating of DAWN and Tracts in other languages, and to assist in colporteuring the DAWNS and Tracts. Those who are of a willing mind need no prodding and, so far as we know, are doing all that they can do in this way. We have even returned money to some we had reason to believe from their own letters were giving beyond their ability. We assured him that our commission from the Lord was not to beg, or even to "make a poor mouth" to thus excite pity and draw money, but merely to preach the gospel and leave to the Lord to provide (in his own way) the things needful for ourselves and for his work.
But Brother Rogers was so infatuated with the delusion that God had given him the message for us that he declared that we were resisting God in the matter, and that he was not sure but that the Apostle Paul made a similar mistake in the method he used, as expressed in the verses to which we referred.
Finding argument of no avail, we proposed to set aside some city, large or small, in which he could make a trial of his method – provided he would make a complete demonstration and not leave the city until he had done all the work that he thought should be done there. We believed that the experiment would prove a refutation of his theory, and that thus he might be convinced that it was not of the Lord. But he would not agree to this and told us that we should live by faith. We replied that "our sufficiency is of God," that the Apostle also said, "Hast thou faith? have it to thyself!" – that we are not to have [R1639 : page 108] faith in other people's generosity and endeavor to squeeze money from them, but to have faith in God and to use the means which he puts into our hands, – as he (Brother Rogers) had been doing for six years in preaching the gospel by the sale of DAWN.
We bade Brother Rogers Good-bye, assuring him that so long as he continues in the Truth, trusting in the ransom, we will have a deep interest in his welfare, even though he take what seem to us less advantageous methods of work; that we would put not a straw in his way to hinder his service of the Lord in such a manner as his conscience would approve; and that if, when tried, his method shall seem in any degree to have divine approval we shall be glad to adopt any part that may seem to us compatible with the Lord's Word and spirit. But, meantime, we must demand the same liberty for our conscience that we accord to his. Brother Rogers assured us that he is still in perfect harmony respecting the Truth as presented in the volumes of DAWN, and that he will still be glad to use them in whatever way he may hereafter work. We assured him that we were glad to know this and that we would be pleased to supply him what DAWNS he might desire, at the usual low rate at which we supply all TOWER readers.
We regret, however, that when he saw that his mission and theory did not move us from the method which God has so far blessed, he seemed somewhat bitter in spirit, and left us expressing his intention to see and influence as many as possible of the colporteurs. Hence the propriety of so full a resume of this matter for the benefit, not only of the colporteurs, but also of the English friends, to whom Brother Rogers hopes soon to return; – although no longer as a representative of the Tract Society, nor at its charges.
"As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.... But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him." See 1 Cor. 12:12-18-25-29.
II. QUAR., LESSON III., APR. 15, GEN. 37:23-36.
In tracing the overruling providence of God in the lives of some of his chosen people of the past we find a great stimulus to our faith; and in the noble examples of the ancient worthies we should indeed find spurs to our zeal for God and our faithfulness in his service. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph – how beautifully they walked with God! how simple and childlike their trust in the dark as well as in the light! and how earnest and sincere their devotion!
In our last lesson, Joseph, the favorite son of Jacob's old age, was brought to our attention (a dutiful and promising boy of seventeen), and his prophetic dreams and the envy of his brethren toward him. In this lesson we see how that envy and hatred brought forth their fruits. With the exception of two of the brethren – Reuben and Judah – all were desirous of taking his life; but the two did not dare to openly oppose the rest, so they suggested other measures. Reuben had him cast into a pit from whence he intended secretly to rescue him, but where the others were agreeable to letting him die of starvation. But before Reuben could accomplish his purpose of rescue Judah had proposed his sale to a company of traveling merchants going down to Egypt; and to this they had agreed, and had disposed of their young brother and divided the price among themselves. Of this transaction Reuben evidently was not informed, and he shared his father's grief at the supposed death of Joseph.
Judah's motive was apparently a double one – first, to ease his conscience by choosing the lesser of the two evils, avoiding to incur the guilt of his brother's blood, and yet desirous to accomplish the purpose of getting rid of him, and that at a slight profit to themselves. Then, in common with the other eight, he was willing to lie to his father and to make believe that Joseph was dead. Judah's choice of the lesser of two evils he may have regarded as a species of virtue, as the suggestion from, "Let us slay our brother," to "Let us sell our brother," presents a strong contrast. Thus men are often deceived by comparing a great with a lesser evil, or themselves one with another, and especially with those of meaner disposition, instead of with the perfect standards of virtue and true holiness set forth in the Scriptures.
This supposed loss of a beloved son was another severe trial for Jacob. Evidently Joseph was the one in whose line of descent he looked for the fulfilment of the divine covenant. He was the eldest son of his beloved Rachel, and a son after his own heart, in whom was the reverence of God and the love of righteousness. The coat of many colors seems to have been his expression of this hope, which he did not seek to conceal from his family, being desirous and hopeful probably that they also would share his sentiments. And in Reuben's favor it may be remarked that of all the brethren he had more reason to be envious of Joseph, since he was the eldest son of Leah, the first wife. For twenty-three long years Jacob suffered the loss of this beloved son before he received the glad tidings – "Joseph is yet alive." Yet he faithfully held to the promises of God and waited for the consolation of Israel, and humbly developed the graces of meekness and patience which, in God's sight, are of great value.
In the case of Joseph the trial was one of great severity. From being a beloved and favorite son, tenderly reared in his father's house, he was suddenly transported to the position of a slave in a foreign and heathen land. Added to this, too, were the bitter experience of the murderous hatred and cold-hearted cruelty of his brothers and the thought of his father's grief and loneliness, and that without any apparent prospect of ever seeing his face again, or of even hearing a word from him, as no railroads or telegraphs or mailing arrangements then facilitated communication between foreign nations, and Joseph was a servant having no command of time or money.
This was surely a bitter experience for a young man of seventeen; but as he left [R1639 : page 110] the scenes of his childhood and all that he held dear on earth, and that under such painful circumstances, like his father when he fled from Esau, bereft of every thing else, he took with him the staff of the divine promises and the principles of truth and righteousness under whose influence he had been reared, and he resolved to be loyal and faithful to God and to maintain his integrity under whatever circumstances he should be placed. Alas! how few young men in these days – nor did they in those days – make such resolutions, even under the most favorable circumstances. This is the age when they generally think they should be sowing their wild oats, of which they generally forget they must afterward reap the bitter harvest.
While God could have prevented and might have interfered at any step of these distressing circumstances, we see that he did not, but that he allowed each one to freely manifest his disposition for good or for evil; yet above them all we see his overruling providence in turning these very circumstances to account in a most marvelous way for the furtherance of his benevolent designs and to the special blessing of his faithful servants. Thus, for instance, Joseph being thrown more upon his own resources and in contact with a new, and at the time the most advanced, civilization of the world, received a new and valuable education which otherwise he could not have received, and a discipline that developed manly strength, courage, tact, and firmness of character; while his isolation from all the old home associations led him to closer communion with God and reliance upon his power.
Then, too, in the providence of God, Joseph was the forerunner of all Israel in the land of Egypt, where God proposed to give that entire nation a needed and valuable experience for four hundred years, in contact with the highest civilization of that day, yet under the humiliating circumstances of servitude which would tend to humble them, and also to teach them reliance upon God. Here, too, their race would be kept pure and distinct from others, since, as slaves, they could not intermarry with the Egyptians. And through Israel in the land of Egypt, not only the Egyptians, but other nations through them, were to learn something of the power and character of the true God.
A very special lesson of importance to us, in considering the course of divine providence with these ancient worthies, may be gathered from the fact that the value of their experience in developing character and in shaping circumstances for future good is so manifest to us from the standpoint of the ends attained, while to them, as they passed through those experiences, they had to walk by faith trusting the guiding hand of God, where they could not trace his loving purposes.
Abraham could not know that God would provide himself a lamb other than Isaac; and therefore it was his part to obey the divine command, even to the raising of the knife to slay his son. Jacob could not know how Esau would meet him in peace and permit him to enjoy the good of the land; but it was his part to arise and take all his house and all his goods and go to meet Esau when the Lord commanded. Joseph could not know just how all the painful circumstances that befell him after he left his father's house in search of his brethren were to work together for such great good for himself and for all his father's house, and for all Egypt as well; but it was his part to carry with him into Egypt the principles of divine truth and righteousness [R1640 : page 110] and the noble example of a godly character, and as a servant to Potiphar to faithfully perform his service to the best of his ability. And while, like his father Jacob, he thus walked in the path of faith and duty, God could add his blessing; and we, at this end of the line, see the blessed results of their faithfulness, trust and humility.
Just so, in the light of eternity, the past experiences of our lives will appear if, like them, we prove faithful under all circumstances – in the dark as well as in the light, in the storm as well as in the calm. As children of God we must all have the discipline of experience: let us see to it, therefore, that we patiently and meekly submit ourselves to God, taking courage from the noble examples of the ancient worthies, and from the manifestations of God's love and care and wisdom in making all things work together for good to them as he has promised to do for us also.
"Leave to his sovereign sway[R1640 : page 111]
To choose and to command:
So shalt thou gladly own his way,
How wise, how strong his hand!"
II. QUAR., LESSON IV., APR. 22, GEN. 41:38-48.
In Egypt we find Joseph making the best of his new and trying circumstances. Having resolved to look upon the brightest side of things and to act upon the right side, he trusted in God and was cheerful and faithful in all his duties, whether they were agreeable duties or not. He acted thus, not from policy, but from principle – because he loved righteousness and desired the approval of a righteous God.
His faithfulness soon won his master's confidence; "and his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand;... And he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand." And when, after some ten years of faithful service here, he was falsely accused and cast into prison, "and he was laid in iron and his feet were hurt with fetters" (Psa. 105:17,18), with a clear conscience and a sense of the divine approval he determined to make the best of that situation also; and there too "the Lord was with him and showed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison;" and there, without any prospect of release, he remained faithful to God and duty for three years, when suddenly, the purposes of this discipline and proving having been served, God set before him an open door. He did not take him out of prison, but in pursuance of the pathway of benevolent helpfulness to others he led him out.
Wherever Joseph was, and no matter what were the circumstances, he did what was right and made the best use of the situation; and his faithfulness in all the little things prepared him for larger and wider fields of usefulness. He was rightly exercised by the experiences of life. He was kind both to the thankful and to the unthankful, generous to the mean as well as the noble, not allowing the injustice and harsh treatment which he received from others to harden his heart. And in all his course we see no signs of distrust in God or of complaining. In his trials he simply clung closer to God and took comfort in the manifestations of his favor, while he trusted where he could not trace him.
When God showed to Joseph the interpretation of the dreams of the butler and baker in prison, he recognized the favor as from God and thought he saw in the circumstance an open door to liberty once more. But the ungrateful butler forgot his benefactor, and for two years more he remained a prisoner. Then the door was swung open – this time, not only to freedom, but to honor and advancement, and Joseph was prepared to enter. His suggestion to Pharaoh of a wise course in view of the predicted famine was an evidence not only of his faith in God but also of a keen, active, business turn of mind. He thus taught that men should act upon their faith promptly and without wavering; and when he was chosen to pilot the nation through the threatening dangers of their future, he showed his great executive ability and his faithfulness there also. In this he was partly favored by inheritance from his father; but much was added to that by his own energy and force of character. All the open doors to usefulness and honor are of no avail if we lack the energy and force of character to enter them and to carry forward successfully the enterprises to which they lead. Faithfulness, purity of character, nobility of purpose, energy, courage, acquired skill, piety and self-discipline are all necessary to a successful life from God's standpoint.
Joseph's exaltation to the throne of Egypt, where he was second only to the king, may be regarded by some as the full reward of his faithfulness. But evidently Joseph did not so regard it. He still had respect to the promises of God: he did not lose his head and become puffed up with pride on being elevated from the position of a slave and a prisoner to a royal throne, but with the same steady dignity that characterizes a true man, he quietly went about the business of his new office with the same energy, competency, and faithfulness that had characterized him as a slave and as a son and brother in his father's house. His long acquaintance with God, especially under the discipline of adversity, had made him humble, and the graces of character grew beautifully in his prepared heart. But the throne of Egypt had never been the goal of his ambition; for, like Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, he looked for the heavenly city, the Kingdom of God. There was his treasure and there was his heart, and from thence he drew the inspiration of his noble life; and the court of Egypt was esteemed only for its privileges of helpfulness to others.
DEAR TRACT SOCIETY: – Enclosed please find $5.00, which is to be applied on my "Good Hopes." It is more than I thought I would be able to send, and I am truly glad of it. I only wish it were many times more. I have thoroughly tested all the Tract Society publications, and never feared to place them in any one's hands; for they stand on the true foundation, and besides are easily comprehended. I have been an advocate of these publications for nearly thirteen years, and I like Brother R's method. He has never yet bewildered or mystified my mind, and I feel satisfied with his exegesis on Bible subjects. I believe MILLENNIAL DAWN and ZION'S WATCH TOWER to be God's agents for disseminating the truth; and may the Father's blessing go with both the Editors and the publications. Yours in love of the truth,
DEAR SIR: – I send you a brief sketch of the life of Mrs. Lucretia Mead, who was an earnest Christian, a great reader and a deep thinker. She died last August at the ripe age of ninety. All her life she studied to find justice combined with mercy in the old orthodox theologies, but failed utterly. And consequently she was unhappy. About ten or twelve years ago a copy of the TOWER was sent to the postoffice of which my father was postmaster. He took the liberty to send the paper to her. She read and reread it, and then sent for the paper for a year; and we have taken it ever since.
If you could have seen her study your books and papers, and compare them with the Bible, and heard her exclaim, "It is truth! It is truth;" and then, raising her eyes to heaven, as it were, praise God for sending her those truths, as I have seen and heard her do, you would praise God, too, for being the means of so much happiness. Then to see and hear that aged mother teach her children (gray-headed men and women) and grand-children and great-grand-children was a sight or rather an experience few families have witnessed. She used to wonder why God let her live so long. I told her I firmly believed God intended her to live in order that four generations at least should be made acquainted with these truths through her.
DEAR FRIEND AND BROTHER: – Again I intrude on your valuable time, not to ask questions or to make complaints, but to tell you the joy I feel, and the hope that daily grows stronger within me. I have at last been able to do something for Him, in his blessed cause. I have been the means in his hands of supplying "meat" to some truth-hungry souls, and feel that I have His approval in so doing. True it is, that I have accomplished little; but that little gives me great encouragement and stimulates me to press onward in the good work.
Until lately, I have been more or less in darkness; that is, trying to see through the gloom in which I was enveloped, knowing that something better lay beyond, yet failing continually. Now I am commencing to see more clearly. I was an idle laborer in the vineyard; now I trust I am becoming a worker. True, my work is small, but who knows, but our dear Lord, how far it may extend. If one can bring the Truth to four, what may those four do. As to myself, I am daily putting the old self under. The work is slow, but is progressive, evil is continually with me and sometimes gets the better of me, but it is dying slowly and surely. What used to be severe trials are now almost nothings. I look to Him and put my trust in Him, knowing he is working all things together for good. All I regret is lack of opportunity to do more in His service. The time, I know, is short; hence my impatience. With love to all your workers and yourself and helpmate, I remain, Yours in hope,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – The last TOWER has reached me, and oh! it is fine! My heart goes out to you and yours in the work you are doing in spreading real good news, and when I think of the multitudinous vexations which must continually harass you.
In reference to your appointment of a committee to examine MS. sent in for publication, for my own part I hope it will soon have to be dispensed with because of lack of work. In reference to others publishing, I always feel if the same means, time and energy were put forth in circulating already published articles from the TOWER office (which are certainly published at a much lower rate), how much more good would be done! This is still my feeling; and I do not feel one whit able to write (much less publish and circulate) anything to exceed what comes out from time to time. Accept much love.
Yours in our Lord,
PUBLISHED TWICE A MONTH.
N.B. – Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accidents, or other adversity, are unable to pay, will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
Little did we suppose, when writing for our last issue the article, "Watch and Pray, Lest Ye Enter into Temptation," that the admonition was so greatly needed by you all, and especially by the Editor and his faithful co-workers in the service here. Suffice it here to say that the Adversary has been busy concocting a dark conspiracy in the hearts of some who should be "true yoke-fellows," but who are proving themselves to be "false brethren," similar to some mentioned by the Apostle in 2 Thes. 3.
Brethren and Sisters, watch and pray yet more earnestly for yourselves and for us; for assuredly the Adversary opposes us all, more and more, at every step. In all probability the Church's path will grow narrower and more difficult as the Master's did, until, like his, it shall reach a Gethsemane and a Golgotha. The same thought is illustrated in the career of John the Baptist – pointed out in M. DAWN, VOL. II., pp. 260-262.
The severest feature of the present trial is that it is the work of "false brethren." It enables us to appreciate our Lord's "contradiction of sinners against himself"; and we are not weary nor faint in our minds. We have not yet resisted unto blood – death. We are looking away to Jesus, the author of our faith, who in due time, we trust, shall be the finisher of it. – Heb. 12:2-4.
It is becoming quite popular with all sorts of people – religious and irreligious – to point to Jesus of Nazareth, our Redeemer and Lord, as a great and wonderful teacher; and therefore it need not surprise us to find that a similar sentiment is springing up amongst the Jews. It will prepare the way for their ultimate acceptance of him – when the Kingdom is his, and he is the governor among the nations. – Psa. 22:28.
"Shorn of all theological attributes, divested of his Greek garments, disrobed and appearing in the strong light of history, the majestic character and figure of the Nazarene are intelligible enough to a Hebrew. A son of his people, his heart aflame with great intents, his ambition wholly to restore the law, his dream that of the prophets, to bring the kingdom of heaven to the children of earth, he preached a Millennium to men engaged in quarrels and contentions. If he failed, if his life paid the forfeit, it was the sorrowful consequence of troubled times. But his teachings, as they appear upon the face of his book (not as they are interpreted by metaphysicians), are the genuine echoes of the holy things propounded by old prophets. A life led in harmony with such teachings, the same teachings given to Israel in the law and the prophets, must needs be pure and holy. This much we understand. Why cannot all the world thus read these teachings, and thus, to quote the great words of Sir Moses Montefiore, 'remove the title page between the Old and New Testaments.'" page 114
These are supplied to TOWER subscribers at 25 cents per copy or, when taken in packs of five, ten or twenty of any one volume, at the Colporteur rate, 15 cents each; – this to facilitate loaning and giving, so greatly enjoyed by those who receive the truth in the love of it. On account of extra postage the foreign rate will be five copies for $1.00.
|VOL. XV.||APRIL 15, 1894.||NO. 8.|
"Our Savior Jesus Christ...hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." – 2 Tim. 1:10.THE doctrine of the endless torment of the wicked is built upon the theory that they and all men are immortal creatures; – that somehow and somewhere all men became possessed of a power to live always; – that they cannot rid themselves of life, even should they so prefer; and that even God, their Creator, has done a work in creating them that he could not undo if he so desired.
This hypothesis, if conceded – and it is very generally accepted – becomes the basis for a certain sort of logical reasoning. We are assured that since all men are immortal they must all live somewhere and under some conditions; and that since God has promised a reward to the obedient and a punishment to the disobedient, the immortality of the righteous will be spent in bliss and the immortality of the sinners in misery.
Our first question should be, Is the above hypothesis, the foundation of this view, correct? Is it true that God who has the power to create has not the power to undo his work, and destroy man? Reasoning on the subject, before going to God's Word to see what he says about the matter, we should say that there must be some mistake about this hypothesis – that it is less difficult to destroy than to create a being; and that he who created all things must be "able to destroy both soul and body" should he so desire, as also saith the Scriptures. – See Matt. 10:28; Jas. 4:12.
Our reasoning further would be that, since God's character is both just and kind, if he had not had ability to destroy his creatures if unsatisfactory (if when once created they must live on regardless of their own well-being or the well-being of others, and must therefore spend an eternity of misery, in separation from the holy and in confinement with others of their own miserable and sinful disposition), then God would have been much more careful as to who got life at all, and as to the circumstances and conditions of birth and parentage. We hold it would be discreditable to God's justice, wisdom, love and power to assume that he would permit ignorant and depraved parents to bring forth ad libitum a depraved offspring, mentally, morally and physically degraded and weak, if those creatures must spend an eternity somewhere, and if the chances were, as is generally supposed, a thousand to one against their everlasting happiness.
But we do not wish to rest our faith upon human reasonings, – either our own or those of others – while we have the Bible, God's inspired revelation, to give us positive information on this important subject. In it, and in it alone, God has revealed his character, his plan and his power to execute it.
Before going to the Scriptures, however, it will be well for us to make sure that we have the correct conception of the meaning of the [R1641 : page 116] words immortal and immortality. Although these are English words, we believe that the majority of English speaking people do not realize their full import. They suppose them to mean merely everlasting life. This, however, is a great mistake; for, according to the Scriptures, some will have everlasting life who will never have immortality; – nay, they expressly tell us that many, "a great company," will enjoy an everlasting existence, while but few, "a little flock," will be made immortal.
The term Everlasting Life simply describes an existence which will never cease. It may be supported by food and drink and other necessary conditions, but it simply means that life will continue forever. This everlasting life may belong to both mortal and immortal beings, the only difference being that to the former it is granted through certain conditions upon which it depends for support, as for instance, light, heat, air, food and drink, while in the latter it inheres independent of all conditions.
The term Immortality describes an existence which, therefore, cannot cease, being proof against death. It is an indestructible existence, not dependent upon food and drink or conditions of any kind. It describes an existence which needs no refreshment or supply – possessed of inherent life.
If these definitions be accepted as correct (and they cannot be successfully disputed), then all opposition to the Scriptural teaching, that Immortality is not an inherent and natural possession of humanity, but a prize offered to a special class of overcomers, should cease; because opposition generally springs from the supposition that the denial of natural human immortality means a denial of any future life, and implies that a man and a brute are alike in death – without hope of a future existence. We are glad that we are able to thus remove at once the prejudice which hinders so many from a candid examination of the Scriptural teaching upon the subject.
The Scriptures assert that this very high order of existence (which we men cannot fully comprehend), this life without food or other means of supply – inherent life, Immortality – was originally possessed by the Heavenly Father only. He alone has it without derivation from another as a gift or reward. All others, therefore, who ever will attain to this highest order or degree of existence, will obtain it as a reward or gift, and will then possess the divine nature, in which nature, alone, Immortality inheres.
Angels no more possess immortality than do men; for, although they possess the divine image and likeness (as do all of God's intelligent creatures), they are not partakers of the divine [R1642 : page 116] nature; – theirs is angelic nature, as man's is human nature. True, there is no dying among the angels as there is among men, but neither would men die if it were not for the penalty of sin, under which all men came by father Adam's disobedience, and from which all of them, who will accept the terms of the New Covenant, will shortly be set free. (Isa. 61:1.) But that angels could be destroyed, as man has been, is fully substantiated by God's dealing with Satan, who, before he sinned, was an angel of light, a son of the morning – one of the earliest creation. (Isa. 14:12.) Both in literal and symbolic language the Bible declares that Satan is to be destroyed; – which proves conclusively that he and other angels do not possess that exclusively divine attribute of inherent life, Immortality.
And the Scriptures assure us that even our great Redeemer, who was the very first and chief of God's creatures, "the beginning of the creation" of God, and by whom angels and men and all other created things were made (Rev. 3:14; John 1:3; Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:2; Eph. 3:9), and who consequently was next to the Father in honor and glory and power, – even he did not possess this wonderful kind of life, this essentially divine quality, until after his resurrection from the dead, after he had given himself as man's great sin-offering, once for all and forever. Then, as a reward for his perfect obedience to the Father's will and plan, even unto death, he was highly exalted [R1642 : page 117] and given a name above every other name. His obedience to the divine will proved him an overcomer of evil in the highest degree, and he was honored with a seat with the Father in the throne or dominion of the Universe. Among the other favors conferred upon our great Redeemer after his sacrifice and at his resurrection was this divine quality of having "life in himself," not dependent on supplies of food, etc., the gift of Immortality.
Indeed, if our Redeemer had possessed this kind of life before, he could not have been our Redeemer; for he could not have died for us. To any one possessing immortality, suffering and death are impossible. Thanks be to God that Christ died for our sins – once for all. But he will never die again: he is now immortal and cannot die. "Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more: death hath no more dominion over him." – Rom. 6:9.
With these views of the exclusiveness of this quality of being called Immortality, and seeing that it is essentially a quality of the divine nature only, it may well cause us surprise to find it promised or offered to any creature – angel or man. Yet we do find it not only given to our resurrected Lord Jesus, but offered also to a particular class of men, within a special period of time, under certain conditions and for a special purpose in the divine plan.
God's purpose is clearly stated in connection with the text at the head of this article, thus: "God...hath saved us, and CALLED US WITH A HOLY CALLING; not according to our works [or past evidence of worthiness], but ACCORDING TO HIS OWN PURPOSE and favor, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death and brought LIFE and IMMORTALITY to light through the gospel." – 2 Tim. 1:8-10.
God's purpose was to make a "new creation," of his own nature – the divine nature – of which new creation his Beloved Son, our Lord, was to be the chief or head, next to himself. God's purpose was that this new order of beings should be selected from among the human order; not that the human family had specially pleased God in works, or in any other manner had merited this honorable preference; but of his favor he purposed it so. And it is in the carrying out of this purpose that our Lord Jesus has already been manifested, and that by his obedience he has not only secured to himself the Father's favor and his own exaltation to the divine nature and glory and honor, but by the same act of obedience, even unto death, he has opened the way to two things; viz., life and immortality. Life, everlasting life, is opened up to the world in general; and each member of the race may secure it by conformity to the terms of the New Covenant: and immortality is brought to light for the special class, the foreordained Church, which, according to God's purpose and wonderful favor, is now being called, and tested, and selected, for participation in the divine nature and association in the divine plan, as heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, their Lord and Redeemer.
Observation and reflection teach us what the Scriptures expressly declare; namely, that the requirements of character for that high position are exacting, the way to that great exaltation narrow, difficult, and that few of the many called will win the prize, make their calling and selection sure (by full and hearty obedience of mind) and become partakers of the divine nature. The overcomers who will sit with Christ in his throne, as he overcame and was associated with the Father in his dominion, will be but "few," a "little flock." Not many great, mighty or noble, according to the reckoning of this world, will be chosen; but the humble and meek, rich in faith. – 1 Cor. 1:26; Jas. 2:5.
Some of the Scriptures upon which the foregoing statements are based are the following: Showing that God is the only original possessor of Immortality, 1 Tim. 6:15,16. Showing that to Christ has been given this quality of having "life IN HIMSELF," not needing further supply, John 5:26. Showing that each one of the faithful, overcoming Church, Christ's bride and joint-heir, is to share the same gift, a well-spring of life in himself, springing up everlastingly, John 4:14. But each must run a race and win it as a prize, as did their [R1642 : page 118] Master and Captain, the Lord Jesus. (Rom. 2:7; 1 Tim. 4:10; 1 Cor. 9:25; 2 Pet. 1:4-7,8,10.) And such shall have part in the same kind of a resurrection that Christ experienced, Phil. 3:10,11. His was the first or chief resurrection, to the highest station; and, as his "body," they will share with him that first or chief resurrection to glory, honor and immortality, and over them consequently the second death will have "no power," Rev. 20:6. That this class will obtain this inherent quality of the divine nature (immortality), and be like their Lord, is clearly stated by the Apostle in his description of their resurrection, the "first resurrection," "the resurrection of the dead," 1 Cor. 15:42-44,50-54. (The word incorruptible, when applied to being, existence, is of similar significance to immortal). The exceeding, great and precious promises of God, by which these are called or begotten, are incorruptible seed, and wherever retained and nourished will develop into being of the divine nature, 1 Pet. 1:23 and 2 Pet. 1:4. These citations include all the uses of these words, immortal, immortality, incorruptible and incorruption in the Bible; – in the original as well as in the English language.
Whence then came the popular notion that all human beings possess immortality, innately, inherently? Evidently it came not from the Bible; for, as we have seen, the Bible teaches the reverse, that God alone had it as an inherent quality, and that he has offered it as a gift to but a small and very select class. Nay, more, the Bible distinctly declares that man is mortal, that death is possible to him. (Job 4:17; Deut. 30:15; Rom. 6:12; 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:53; 2 Cor. 4:11); and more, that he has passed under its sentence (Rom. 5:12); that his only hope is in a resurrection, a re-vitalizing or re-creation from the dead; and that an everlasting continuance of life may be had only upon the condition of full obedience to the divine requirements. – 1 Cor. 15:17,18,20,21; Rom. 5:18,19; Acts 4:2; 17:18; 24:15.
Scanning the pages of history, we find that, although the doctrine of human immortality is not taught by God's inspired witnesses, it is the very essence of all heathen religions. Savage tribes in every quarter of the earth believe the doctrine, and from their tribal traditions have held it from time immemorial. It is not true, therefore, that Socrates and Plato were the first to teach the doctrine: it had an earlier teacher than either of them, and a yet more able one. They, however, polished the doctrine, as long held by the Greeks, and made a philosophy out of it, and thus made it the more seductive and acceptable to the cultured class of their day and since.
The first record of this false teaching is found in the oldest history known to man – the Bible. The false teacher was Satan. "He was a liar from the beginning [not from his beginning, but from the beginning of man's experience – from Eden] and abode not in the truth." He used this false doctrine in tempting mother Eve to wilfully and knowingly disobey God's command. God had said to Adam and Eve that the penalty of disobedience would be death. Satan's denial of this, saying, "Ye shall not surely die!" was practically saying that God could not destroy them after having created them. It was practically, therefore, the first affirmation of the doctrine of inherent, human immortality. And this is the teacher who has blinded and confused all nations and peoples upon this subject. Himself and his agents and coadjutors, the fallen "angels who kept not their first estate" (Jude 6), have taught the world this lie, in the same manner that they attempted to teach Israel, – by dreams and by necromancy, – by personating their dead friends, through "spirit-mediums" of modern times.
During the Jewish age God guarded his typical people against those delusions and lying spirits of devils, assuring them that "the dead know not any thing"; that "his sons come to honor and he knoweth it not, and to dishonor and he perceiveth it not of them"; for "there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, [R1643 : page 118] nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest." – Job 14:21; Eccl. 9:5,10. [R1643 : page 119]
The following references will show clearly the Lord's attitude on this subject during the period of typical Israel's favor; viz., Deut. 18:10-12; Lev. 19:31; 20:6; 2 Kings 21:6; 23:24; Isa. 8:19; 19:3; 29:4; 1 Cor. 10:20; Jas. 3:15; 2 Tim. 3:8. In God's dealing with the Gospel Church, as we have already seen, he guarded them against the error by setting before them the true and only hope of everlasting life and of immortality; bringing BOTH to light in the gospel; showing that life everlasting would be given only to faithful, obedient men as a reward at the resurrection, and that immortality would be bestowed as a favor upon a little flock, the special "overcomers" of this Gospel age.
These "seducing spirits and doctrines of devils," so successful over the entire world in all past time, the Lord advises his people, will be specially active and specially seductive in form in the close or "harvest" of this Gospel age. "Now the spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, [through] giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils speaking lies in hypocrisy." (1 Tim. 4:1.) We are also forewarned that this "hypocrisy" consists in personating messengers of light ("angels of light" – 2 Cor. 11:13,14), and affecting to bring in "new light."
Among the barbarians, steeped in ignorance, there is no need of new light – they are left asleep. But amongst the enlightened and civilized (despite his blinding influences, 2 Cor. 4:4), thought and investigation are being aroused; and there Satan is kept busy. Among such necromancy and incantations will not do; their intellects are too alert to be much or long hoodwinked by these. Even the finer deceptions of Spiritism (with its manifestations of superhuman powers through rapping, tipping, writing and speaking and impersonating mediums with familiar spirits, which it claims are for the purpose of proving human immortality), are too gross and senseless to deceive and captivate God's consecrated ones, the very class Satan is most anxious to stumble. Consequently there are changes in progress, – new garments of "new light" are assumed continually, and every feature of present truth sent by God to "the household of faith," as meat in due season, is promptly counterfeited, in order "to deceive if it were possible the very elect."
But it is not possible to deceive those whose faith in God is fixed in Christ – who are trusting in the merit of Christ's great redeeming sacrifice and whose hearts are wholly consecrated to the Lord's service. Such "shall never fall"; but all others are to be separated from the true, and God permits, yea, using Satan's wrath to work out his own plans, he may be and is said to send the strong delusions which are now perplexing all whose faith is not founded upon the rock Christ Jesus, and who have not already put on the whole armor of God, supplied in his Word. All who have failed to receive the truth in the love of it, but take pleasure rather in the error and serve error, God wills shall be deceived by these "doctrines of devils," that thus their condemnation, as unfit for a share in the Kingdom, may be manifested. – See 2 Thes. 2:10,11; and WATCH TOWER, April '91.
Among the popular and more refined devices of the great Adversary are Christian Science in its various schools and with slight differences and Theosophy. These on the outside, together with the evolutionary and anti-Biblical theories inside the nominal churches, called Higher Criticism, advanced thought, etc., are rapidly tearing to fragments all of truth that the poor nominal churches ever held. These all bear the distinctive marks of the "father of lies." They all with one consent declare man to be immortal.
The assumedly wise "Higher Critics," who claim that the writers of the Bible were less learned, less wise and less inspired than themselves, and hence that their writings should be regarded only as well-meant "old wives fables," claim that man is "falling upward" – evolving from a state or condition of low degradation, perhaps from a monkey or even a [R1643 : page 120] tadpole state, up to the divine nature, by virtue of inherent immortality.
Christian Science is wholly a misnomer; for it is devoid of scientific elements, and merely prefixes the name Christian to destroy and deceive God's people; for to them Christ was not a Savior, nor was a savior needed: he was merely a good man, a Christian Scientist who but imperfectly understood the new science which he introduced, but which in these latter times has been perfected and fully set forth by Mrs. Doctor Eddy of Boston, Mass. As expounded by its various schools it teaches the immortality of all things, and has for its trade-mark, so to speak, the expression, "All is life, there is no death!" Thus they speak Satan's falsehood, "Ye shall not surely die."
The various shades of Universalism unite in the same conclusion. Some hold that man evolved from a tadpole or ape, some that he was poorly made and a very bad likeness and not at all the image of God, and declare that he was like "a half-baked cake;" but all unite in the belief that all men are being evolved to perfection and the divine nature, and assure all in Satan's very language, "Ye shall not surely die."
And, finally, we have Theosophy – the latest nonsense to appeal to the cultured and aesthetic, but really blind and naked and hungry in the nominal churches. (Rev. 3:17.) It comes forward as the newest and most polished form of religious thought; but those versed in ancient and medieval history know that it is, in its very essence, a revival of the central thought of Hindooism, and in many particulars the delusion of the so-called German Mystics. Theosophy holds that "all things are of God" in the absolute and ridiculous sense. It holds that all finite existences were effluxed or thrown off from one Infinite Being; that these effluxed beings – angels, men, beasts and birds and devils – being portions of deity are immortal and (as Satan has always taught) "shall not surely die." Following the philosophy of Socrates and Plato (while denying these as the authors or even the burnishers of their doctrine, and claiming that Socrates and Plato got the information as they now get it direct from God, by communion and intuition), it claims that man not only will live forever future, but that he has lived forever past. It appeals to the weak-minded with the question, "Have you never seen places that seemed strangely familiar the first time you visited them? Those were places you had seen before your present existence began." And, as of old, Satan may sometimes assist a sluggish imagination with a dream. It holds that death is not death, but a new birth, and that each individual will be reborn again and again until he has developed sufficiently the divine nature, and then he will be reabsorbed into God for eternity.
It professes to be based upon neither theology nor philosophy. The word Theosophy is defined by its advocates to mean the Religion of Wisdom. It claims that its wisdom is divine, resulting from direct intuition and communion with God. Consequently, it rejects philosophical reasoning, and revelation such as the Scriptures, as hindrances to true wisdom. Instead of accepting and using the revelation which God has provided – the Bible – and therefrom learning of the character and will of God and bringing their wills and actions into harmony with the spirit of its teachings, these have rejected the wisdom of God (Rom. 1:18-21; 1 Cor. 1:18-21; 2:9-16) and substituted the vain imaginings of their own imperfect minds – holy meditations. "Professing to be wise, they become fools" was written, by divine authority, of a similar class. – Rom. 1:21,22.
Claiming to reject all revealed religion, and ignoring doctrines entirely, Theosophy professes to be the religion of cause and effect – that sooner or later wrong doing will react upon the wrong doer, bringing its penalty; and right doing bringing its reward. Like the recent World's Parliament of Religions, it places Christ and Moses on a parity with Confucius, Plato and Socrates – as world-teachers. It is ready to quote from the Bible or from the Koran any fragment which can be turned to account in its own support, but it does not regard any book or man as specially inspired authority. It professes to be the patron of every noble trait and every benevolent design, and is willing to class as Theosophists all [R1643 : page 121] popular people. It favors alms-giving and good deeds, so done as to be seen of men.
Theosophy is, therefore, as it claims, preeminently suited to the sentiments of the majority of the wise children of this world who do not appreciate either their own imperfection or the Lord's mercy in Christ. They say, "I want no one to pay my debts for me. I expect to pay for myself the penalty of my sins – if I commit any." All such are just ripe for Theosophy. Indeed, the entire "Christian world" is ready to leave its former confused creed-mooring and to set sail, with Theosophy for pilot and good works for motive power, to reach a haven of rest and happiness, if there be such a haven; – for many of them doubt it. Alas! how the ignorance of God's Word and plan and the present confusion of the nominal churches paves the way for this great falling away from the cross of Christ to "another gospel" – which is really no gospel. – Gal. 1:6,7.
Of course none of these delusions have any use for the doctrine of the cross of Christ – the "ransom for all" – or its testimony in due time, now or hereafter. No; the Bible doctrine, of a ransom past and of a future restitution as a consequence, finds no place in any of these theories. Those who hold with Satan, "Ye shall not surely die," of course can see [R1644 : page 121] no more sense in giving a ransom for a creature who is "falling upward" or being evolved from lower to higher conditions, than they could feel sympathy with a restitution which would bring them back to their "former estate," since according to their false theories this would mean the undoing of all the progress of six thousand years of evolution. – Compare Acts 3:19-21; Ezek. 16:53-55.
These are some of the foretold "strong delusions" of our day. They are not actually strong or powerful – on the contrary they are very weak – but they have great power to delude many, because few are "weaned from the milk" (Isa. 28:9); few in the nominal church are mentally or spiritually out of their swaddling clothes; few have even used the milk of God's Word and grown thereby to the use and appreciation of the strong meat of present truth which is for the developed men in Christ. (Heb. 5:13,14.) It is not surprising to us, therefore, that those whom Spiritism and Swedenborgianism did not affect are now being gathered into Christian Science and Theosophy, the later developments of Satan's cunning.
The strength of these delusions lies in the errors mixed with the truths held by Christian people; and among these errors none is more injurious or better calculated to open the heart and mind to these delusive and destructive errors than the general belief of the first lie – "Ye shall not surely die" – a failure to understand the Bible doctrine concerning life and immortality brought to light by our Lord Jesus, through his gospel of salvation from sin by his ransom sacrifice. Every error held obscures and hinders some truth; and we have come to a place where every child of God needs all the panoply of truth – the armor of God. He who has not on the whole armor of God is almost sure to fall into error in this evil day. Who shall be able to stand? None, except those who are building up their most holy faith with the precious promises and doctrines of God's Word.
The advocates of these doctrines are surprisingly alert everywhere – especially in this country where thought is most active and where liberty often means license, – and hundreds and thousands are embracing these errors as new light. The extent of their success is not yet apparent to very many; for their success lies in making a still hunt for their prey. They are to be found in almost every congregation of every denomination – especially the more cultured; and the "angel of light" feature is seldom neglected. The nominal church is already permeated, leavened, with these false doctrines; and they are spreading so rapidly that the Scriptural prophecy, that a thousand shall fall from the faith to one who will stand faithful, will soon be fulfilled and demonstrable. (Psa. 91:7.) The doctrine of the ransom, the cross of Christ, is the test. Already a large proportion of the nominal church disbelieves in Christ's death as their ransom or corresponding price, and have taken what is rapidly coming to be considered the [R1644 : page 122] advanced position, that Jesus was merely AN EXAMPLE for us to follow, not also our redeemer.
From the Scripture teaching upon the subject we cannot doubt that these deceptions will grow stronger and that even greater demonstrations of superhuman power will be permitted them – that all except the very elect may be stumbled. (Matt. 24:24; 2 Pet. 1:10.) The doing of wonderful things is an old trick with Satan. And if disease and death are to a considerable extent under his control (See Job 1:12; Heb. 2:14), why might he not in an emergency reverse the method and do some healing of diseases, thereby to re-establish his errors, and re-blind some whose eyes of understanding have been gradually opening, under the light of the Millennial day dawn? We believe that he is adopting this policy, and that he will do so yet more. And we believe that our Lord's suggestive inquiry was prophetic of this, when he said, "If Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself: how then shall his kingdom stand?" (Matt. 12:26.) So now when Satan's Kingdom is about to fall, it will be his effort to support it by many wonderful works done by his unknowing as well as by his wilful agents, falsely and in the name of Christ.
Theosophists introduce their views with the true suggestion that, – "The various Christian religions have no prospect of converting the world to Christ through their creeds, which antagonize each other, and what the world needs is a religion of deeds, not of creeds." It proposes, as the only creed of life, unselfishness. This is captivating to some who, like Theosophists, delight to talk about doing good and being unselfish, but who perhaps do as little as or less than the majority of others, without substantial returns.
Nevertheless, the jangle of creeds and the well-founded doubts of nominal Christians make them an easy prey to such delusions. Hence many are ceasing to believe in or even to think of creed, except to doubt them all and in every particular, and are grasping as a relief the single idea – "An unselfish life, now, will certainly secure for me the best there is hereafter." Thus Christ, and his great sacrifice for sins, are being buried under the mass of confused tradition known as the creeds of "Christendom." And the very fundamental error, which caused all the confusion of those creeds, survives them, takes a new form and announces itself, in Theosophy, an agent of reform and new light; and that fundamental error is the false view of death, that when a man dies he is not dead, but more than ever alive. This error is Satan's first lie: "Ye shall not surely die," – all are immortal by nature, and even God cannot destroy you.
Let all who would stand in this time of general falling away from the Bible, from Christ, from the cross which is the center of the divine plan of salvation, look well to this matter and get their heads as well as their hearts right and in harmony with God's revelation – the Scriptures. Only in Christ are life and immortality brought to light, truly. Other lights on these subjects are false lights, the surmisings of imperfect brains, misled by the great deceiver.
True, these various errors are about to gather out of God's Kingdom ALL that offend, and those that do iniquity (and these constitute the great mass), while the faithful, who will receive the Kingdom and be joint-heirs of it with Christ, alone will "stand." (Eph. 6:11-13; Psa. 91:1,4.) But soon after the separation thus, of "wheat" from "tares," the fire of the great day of trouble (Zeph. 3:8) will make general havoc of present arrangements – social, political and financial – as well as of false religious doctrines and systems. Then shall the little flock, having received immortality and the Kingdom, shine forth as the Sun of Righteousness, and cause all the families of the earth to be blessed. – Matt. 13:43; Acts 3:19-21; Mal. 4:2.
Then let all who know the Truth be active in its spread. If you cannot preach orally perhaps you can preach privately, to your friends or neighbors, – by printed page or pen or word, as well as by your consistent daily conduct. Those about you need whatever help you can give, and if they do not get it many of them surely will drift into these latter-day delusions of Satan.
AS an illustration of Calvinism as it was preached in by-gone days, but which the intelligence both of hearers and preachers prohibits in this day of greater light, we quote the following from the New York Journal's review of a new biography of Jonathan Edwards recently published: –
"Now let us see what impression was produced by the preaching of the doctrines of the immutable election of the few and the inevitable damnation of the many which Edwards with remorseless logic reared on his conception of the human will. The contemporary records and surviving traditions on the subject are brought together by Dr. Allen on pages 126-129 of this volume. 'One man has recorded that as he listened to Edwards, when discoursing of the day of judgment, he fully anticipated that the dreadful day would begin, when the sermon should come to an end.' Then follows the memorable account left by an ear and eye witness of the effect of the sermon preached at Enfield, Conn., in July, 1741 – a sermon which, in the words of the biographer, 'If New England has forgiven, it has never been able to forget.' The title was, 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God;' and the impression made by it was 'as if some supernatural apparition had frightened the people beyond control. They were convulsed in tears of distress and agony. Amid their sobs and outcries the preacher pauses, bidding them to be quiet in order that he might be heard.' The discourse was one constant stream of imprecation against sinful humanity, and it ended with these words: 'If we knew that there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation that was to be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing it would be to think of! If we knew who it was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a person! How might all the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over him! But, alas! instead of one, how many, it is likely, will remember this discourse in hell! And it would be a wonder if some that are now present should not be in hell in a very short time, before this year is out. And it would be no wonder if some persons who now sit here in some seats of this meeting house, in health, and quiet and secure, should be there before the morrow morning."
If it be true that
"Satan trembles when he sees[R1645 : page 123] it must frequently cause him to chuckle and laugh to see how completely he succeeds in getting good men, wearing the livery of the royal priests, to blaspheme the character of the great Jehovah by such false statements.
The weakest saint upon his knees,"
The cunning of the great adversary in hoodwinking and leading captive to his service the professed servants of God, through false doctrines, is wonderful, marvelous. He is the successful prince of this age. As "the god [mighty one] of this world," he has been wonderfully successful in blinding the minds of them which believe not simply and implicitly in God's Word, but manufacture and use theories of their own and the traditions of other men to accomplish their own plans and to bring quick and popular results; so that they come really to love the darkness of error, of Satan-designed human theory, rather than the light of truth and reason which God's Word supplies. And so blinded are they, that even when brought in contact with the light of truth, the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, they fear and dread it and cling to the darkness of which really they are often ashamed. – 2 Cor. 4:4.
O Lord, we are waiting, hoping, praying for that brighter, better day, when the reign of evil shall have finished its work of testing and proving the Church, the Bride; when Satan shall be bound and deceive the nations no more and blind thy children no longer with misrepresentations of thy Word, thy character and thy plan; when the Sun of Righteousness (the glorified Church – Head and body) shall shine forth, the true light which shall enlighten every man that ever came into being (John 1:9); when the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea. For this, O Lord, we wait; and, as thou hast bidden us, we labor on and trust and pray – "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." Yea, even now we discern the dawning of that better day which shall emancipate thy Church, the whole creation, from the bondage of sin and Satan and death, and open the way for all who will to come as the Lord's sheep into his great fold with its bountiful provision of life everlasting.
II. QUAR., LESSON V., APR. 29, GEN. 45:1-15.
Again the wisdom and noble character of Joseph shine out brilliantly in his treatment of his erring brethren. When the widespread famine had brought them down to Egypt to buy corn, he knew them, though, under the changed circumstances of his new position, they did not recognize him. He had left them a beardless boy of seventeen, sold into slavery: they now saw him a man of forty, arrayed in the vestments of royalty and speaking a foreign language which they did not understand.
Had he been of a revengeful spirit, here was his opportunity for retaliation. Now he was in power, and they were at his mercy. Or if, on the other hand, his generosity had overcome his judgment, he might have received into his favor a host of enemies to further menace the peace and usefulness of his life and to stimulate and foster their own evil dispositions. But Joseph was a well-balanced man, and so went to neither the one extreme nor the other. His course showed that he had a forgiving as well as a cautious spirit, and that under proper circumstances he was ready to exercise forgiveness.
He therefore wisely dealt with them roughly at first, that he might prove their present disposition and ascertain whether the experience of years had wrought any change in them, and also that he might learn something with reference to his father and his younger and only full brother, Benjamin. He soon learned that his father and Benjamin still lived (42:13); but by concealing his identity and dealing roughly with them he improved the opportunity to test their present disposition, both toward their aged father and Benjamin and toward each other; and when they were tested he gladly recognized the fact that a great change had taken place in them, as witnessed by their solicitude for their father's feelings about Benjamin, in view of his loss of Joseph, and of their tenderness toward Benjamin who was now the father's favorite in the place of Joseph, thus showing that they had overcome the bitter envy and hatred of their younger days.
He heard them confess, too, in their own language, their guilt one to another with reference to their former treatment of himself, and learned also of Reuben's remonstrance at that time. (42:21,22.) Then the circumstances drew forth the pathetic prayer of Judah for the restoration of Benjamin to his father, and his offer of himself as a substitute, as a bondman to Joseph (44:18-34); and this, too, was accompanied by a humble confession of their former sins and the recognition of present calamity as a deserved punishment from God for them. The whole account of the conference with Jacob their father and with Joseph proved their contrition and change of heart.
This was enough for Joseph: penitence and a true change of heart were all he desired, and having proved this effectually and wisely, he could no longer refrain himself (45:1): his truly forgiving heart now overflowed with benevolence, and he wept aloud and embraced and kissed his brethren, and lavished upon them the wealth of his favor, praying them also to forgive themselves and to strive to forget their former sins now so freely and fully forgiven. But Benjamin, his beloved own brother, and the one who had had no share in the guilt of the others, must have some special tokens of grace: nor did this seem to elicit the least jealousy on the part of the now reformed brethren. They must have returned to their home, not only to tell the good news, but also to confess to Jacob their sin against Joseph as the necessities of the case demanded.
The remainder of the story is of thrilling interest – the breaking of the good news to Jacob, who at first thought it too good to believe, until he saw the tokens of Joseph's favor, the wagons from Egypt, and then said, "It is enough: Joseph my son is yet alive, I will go and see him before I die." Then the long journey, undertaken and cheered by the special direction of God, saying to him in the visions of the night – "I am God, the God of thy father. Fear not to go down into Egypt, for I will there make of thee a great nation. I will go down [R1645 : page 125] with thee into Egypt, and I will surely bring thee up again, and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes." Then the joyful meeting and the realization of Joseph's glory and power, and better than all, of his still surviving filial and fraternal love; then the meeting and favor of Pharaoh and the settling in the land of Egypt under the fostering care of Joseph and Pharaoh, where Jacob enjoyed the evening of life in the midst of his family for seventeen years until his death.
In this beautiful story of the course of divine providence in the life of one of the beloved of the Lord, while we see and gather from it precious lessons of confidence in God and faithfulness and zeal in his service, the thoughtful reader can scarcely fail to observe its typical foreshadowing of Christ, the Savior of his people and of the world also.
Joseph was another illustration, like that of his father, of the chief blessing coming specially upon a younger son, as the chief divine blessing is also to come upon the Christ, Head and body, the Gospel Church, not the elder Jewish church. While all of Jacob's sons were elect in respect to inheriting in common a share in the Abrahamic blessing, Joseph was specially chosen as a type of Christ – Head and body – the one through whom blessings will come upon the natural seed of Abraham, that they in turn may bless all the families of the earth.
Hated of his brethren, the fleshly Israelites, sold as a slave (thirty pieces of silver being the price of slaves, or twenty pieces for those under twenty years), he was thus prefiguring the hatred and sale of Christ by his enemies – his brethren of the Jewish nation, unto whom he came, as did Joseph, and they received him not. Joseph's three years' imprisonment seem to represent the three years of our Lord's ministry, the years after his baptism, when he was dying daily, giving up his life for others, or they were parallel also with his three days' imprisonment in the tomb, from whence, like Joseph, he came forth and was highly exalted, next to the King – to the right hand of the Majesty on high, all power in the Kingdom being given unto him.
Joseph was given full charge and used his power to bless others, storing up food for all. So Christ has been given full charge: he is Lord of all and lays up for all sufficient grace to give everlasting life to all. Nor is Christ ashamed to own as his brethren those who have nothing to commend them to his favor but humble contrite hearts. He will not be ashamed to own them before his Father and all the holy angels. This also was beautifully prefigured in Joseph's treatment of his father and brethren. He was not ashamed to present them before the king, although he knew that shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians. Then, in the period of famine, Joseph used the grain (life) to purchase for Pharaoh the land, the people, and all that they had. – Gen. 47:14-25.
This scheme of statesmanship, which thus secured all the land, so that one-fifth of the annual produce should go to the support of the central government (47:23-26), thus breaking up the petty influence of the nobles and consolidating the state into a strong nation, gave also a striking type of Christ's work. During the Millennial age Christ will give the bread of everlasting life (himself, his merit) to all who desire it, but all must give their all in exchange to Jehovah, whom Pharaoh typified in this affair. Thus [R1646 : page 125] as Joseph, Pharaoh's exalted servant and representative, gave life to, or saved the lives of many, so Christ, as Jehovah's Prime Minister, has provided life for all, and offers it to all on the same conditions of faith and obedience to the King.
Then again mark how beautifully Joseph's noble and benevolent treatment of his erring brethren prefigures the foretold course of our exalted Lord Jesus with his former enemies. Charity, always a noble quality, is specially admirable when seen in such a setting as this. Joseph did not even suggest what he might justly have done to his brethren as punishment for their sin against himself twenty-three years before. After testing his brethren and finding them changed in heart and penitent, he reveals himself a true, loving, forgiving friend and brother. He makes no boast of his own wisdom or virtue as the causes of his exaltation, but ascribes all the honor to God's overruling providence. He does not even remind them of his prophetic dream, which they had all just fulfilled in prostrating themselves before him.
He simply forgave them and gave all the glory of the present deliverance from famine to God, saying, "Now, therefore, be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves that ye sold me hither, for God did send me before you to preserve life. God sent me before [R1646 : page 126] you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God," etc. How simple, and how beautiful! Just so will Christ forgive his penitent enemies. He did not say, however, that God caused them to do the wrong. No, he told them plainly of sin, saying, "As for you, ye thought evil against me, but God meant it [overruled it] unto good, to bring to pass as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now, therefore, fear ye not, I will nourish you and your little ones. And he comforted them and spake kindly unto them." – Gen. 50:20,21.
Thus it is declared of Christ that he will set men's sins in order before them, and that they must freely confess their sins and bear their shame (Psa. 50:21,22; Ezek. 16:61-63; 1 John 1:9), as did Joseph's brethren. But, nevertheless, in the joys of his forgiving love and the blessing of his favor, the sting of shame will be taken away and the fruits of righteous and trustworthy character will reinstate the dignity and nobility of true manhood.
In Joseph's case was emphasized God's promise to all his people – "All things shall work together for good to them that love God, to the called according to his purpose." (Rom. 8:28; Psa. 1:1-3,6.) And such as realize this providential supervision are not only kept the more humble and trustful, but are not vexed and soured by the vicissitudes of life and the misconduct of others as are those who are guiding themselves and fighting their own battles in life. Virtue in character, faith and consecration to God, appreciation of God's care and direction in all of life's affairs, and charity toward those through whose errors our trials and experiences come, is the proper attitude for every sincere child of God. [R1646 : page 126]
II. QUAR., LESSON VI., MAY 6, GEN. 50:14-26.
The evening of Joseph's life reveals to us a true nobility of character, which had stood the test of many a fiery ordeal, and displayed many of the blessed fruits of righteousness. The close of his life was like the sinking of the sun to rest after the shining of an eventful day. He had been a faithful servant, a loyal friend, a merciful and sympathetic brother, a dutiful and loving son, and finally a modest and moderate prince.
To Joseph, as to most of the patriarchs, the severest trials and discipline came in early and middle life, and were rewarded with a serene old age; while to many others such as the Apostle enumerates in Heb. 11, the last days were tragic, and they filled the martyr's grave. The Lord's discipline and testing of his children in the furnace of affliction are regarded by many as evidences of his disfavor, while their temporal prosperity is regarded as a sure sign of his favor. But this is a great mistake; for experiences of both kinds are parts of the trial and testing. We are tested on one side of our nature by the storms of adversity, and on the other by the calms of temporal prosperity; and blessed is the man who neither faints under the former, nor is beguiled by the latter. Such well rounded, symmetrical and strong characters are indeed precious in the sight of the Lord.
Such a man was Joseph: he was schooled and proved in adversity in earlier life and, in his later years, the topmost waves of temporal prosperity never seemed to move him to vanity, nor in any degree to unman him. He still looked beyond these temporal things to "the city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." His confidence in God and his trust that the promise made to Abraham should be fulfilled, never forsook him. Even when surrounded by wealth and comfort he remembered that Egypt was not the promised land; and when he was dying, he, like his father Jacob, indicated his hope in a resurrection and the subsequent fulfilment of the divine promise, by commanding that his body should be buried in the land of Canaan. "By faith, Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel [verses 24,25], and gave commandment concerning his bones." – Heb. 11:22.
It is probable that as Joseph proved so valuable a servant to the Pharaoh who exalted him, he was continued in office by his successor on the throne, perhaps to the end of his life. The benefits he had conferred upon Egypt were of great value, and seem to have been very gratefully received and remembered.
The path of the just of the Golden Text is not an individual path, but one path in which all the just ones walk: it is the path of righteousness (Psa. 23:3), the path marked [R1646 : page 127] out by the Word of the Lord as one of meekness, patience, faith, love, etc.; and those who keep in this path are led of God into all truth in its due season. And this pathway becomes more and more radiant with the glorious light of divine truth as it nears "the perfect day" when the sun of righteousness shall have risen and the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the earth as the waters cover the sea – the Millennial day of Christ's reign on earth.
All the patriarchs and prophets and saints of the past have walked in this path, and on all of them the light of God shone as it became due; but upon none did it ever shine so clearly as it shines to-day; for we are even now in the dawning of the glorious day of Christ, and soon this light will shine upon all.
DEAR SIRS: – Last spring a colporteur called upon me and induced me to buy the MILLENNIAL DAWN series. I read them, and since then have ordered six sets. Four sets are sold, and the others I am loaning. The light that shines into my mind and heart, through the inspired Word, impels me to lead others therein; and this I am endeavoring to do as I have opportunity. May the Lord bless you, and me, and all who love his appearing!
Yours in Christ,
By way of explanation for ordering this amount of books, I desire to say that, about two months ago, two young ladies came into my office selling those books. I was very busy when they presented their card; and, seeing that they were ladies selling books, I bought the three volumes, thinking that by so doing I was helping them out. I have since concluded that these ladies brought to me "glad tidings of great joy." I took the books home, and thought little of them, until a few weeks ago, when I had some spare time, I began reading the first volume, and it was so very interesting that I could not stop. The result is, my dear wife and myself have read these books with the keenest interest, and we consider it a God-send and a great blessing that we have had the opportunity of coming in contact with them. They are indeed a "helping hand" to the study of the Bible. The great truths revealed in the study of this series have simply reversed our earthly aspirations; and realizing to some extent, at least, the great opportunity for doing something for Christ, we intend to take advantage of this opportunity in distributing these books, first, among our nearest relatives and friends, and then among the poor who desire to read them and are unable to purchase; and for that reason we desire these extra copies. As soon as these are exhausted, we will order more, and try to do what we can in this way, be it ever so little.
BROTHER RUSSELL: – Please continue my WATCH TOWER. Enclosed find One Dollar for the same. Am fully committed to the new light. Have read all the DAWNS three or four times. Shall make them my theology in the future. Pray the Lord to show me how to use my entire ability to the best advantage. Please omit the title "Rev." from my name.
God bless you and yours in the glorious work!
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I am getting free from my inherited and traditional Babylonish ideas. Some things I have learned but crudely as yet, with regard to the great plan, but I have begun to read MILLENNIAL DAWN consecutively, as I had never done before. It is most wonderful, how many earnest, well-meaning souls are deluded. I am now, so far as I know, where I want to be enlightened on the Word of God, whatever it may cost to me of personal crucifixion.
I am glad, dear Brother, that I never got any deeper into the inside workings of Babylon than I did. A little over nine months I served as a pastor, when God, our heavenly Father, showed me where I was. Now I want only to know our Father's will [R1647 : page 127] that I may do it. Only very recently have I begun to see my deserved place before God. I see such a wonderful privilege in the election of grace. I see now that God [R1647 : page 128] has not been obliged to give me a place among the "elect few," who "shall be partakers of the divine nature," but, that he calls whomsoever he will, and they must make their calling and election sure. "For, by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves." Much light comes to me through MILLENNIAL DAWN; also on other matters through the WATCH TOWER.
In love of the truth,
DEAR SIR: – I have for the past four years been reading your MILLENNIAL DAWN. I am situated so that I cannot read it consecutively as the subject requires, but have read it with great pleasure and profit. I am thoroughly infatuated with the book. Your ideas have given me a higher conception of God and his dealings with the children of men than any other book of a kindred nature. Your ideas of the "Judgment Day," "Natures Distinct," "Restitution," are so plain and simple and logical that it seems strange I had not long ago arrived at such conclusions. If you have published a paper, send me a copy. I want to know more about this doctrine which removes so many of the stumbling blocks from the way.
I am yours respectfully,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – The second volume of the DAWN series come to hand, also samples of WATCH TOWER. The study of the first two volumes of this work has done me so much good that I am constrained to send for the third and last volume.
I cannot praise the dear Lord enough for the good that I have received through these two volumes. I had back-slidden and almost drifted into skepticism, when your first volume was handed me. But after reading it I was so convinced of the truths of God's Word and his glorious plan for blessing the world, that I besought him for forgiveness for my past sins and shortcomings, and again started to serve him. Its further study caused me to send for the second volume; and it has so blessed me by leading me into the deep truths of the Bible that I cannot thank God enough. How sweet is the meat furnished in due season to the household of faith! I am willing to be led by the Lord and to work in any department of his vineyard in which he may see fit to place me, praise his name!
Yours in Christ,
As I have told you before, I have been converted entirely by the spirit of God, in reading Plan of the Ages. The presentation of the truth is, to me, satisfying and convincing, – wonderful, wonderful. I can lift up my heart and rejoice, knowing that our redemption draweth nigh. What joy unspeakable!
You do not know how I long for fellowship with others who can see the real truth of God's Word. Remember me when you observe the Lord's Supper. I shall be with you in the spirit as you partake of the emblems of the sacrifice – the Lamb that was slain for the sin of the whole world.
Yours in Christ,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I have been thinking of writing to you for some time. I want to thank you as the instrument in God's hands for leading me into the light. I have been a truth-seeker for years; and crying, Oh, that I knew where I might find him! I have often prayed to God in secret to show me his glory. I need not now say that I am feasting mentally on the riches of his grace. The Lord sent me a set of the DAWNS about three months ago; and I have not only read them, but I constantly read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them. They have become a burning fire shut up within my bones, and I cannot forbear to tell the glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.
I was once a Methodist preacher; for eight years I have been a Baptist preacher, but, thank God, I am now only a preacher of the Lord. I have left Babylon forever. Oh, that I may be faithful to the end, that I may be accounted worthy to escape those things that are coming on the earth, and to stand before the Son of Man!
Your brother in Christ,