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.
Some of the friends have been in the habit of addressing letters to the Editor and his wife at their home. Such are notified that hereafter all mail should be addressed to the care of the WATCH TOWER office, Bible House, 58 Arch st., Allegheny, Pa. We have given up housekeeping and are now boarding, believing that this will the better enable us to economize time, and work to the general interest of the Truth and the Lord's "sheep," whom we seek to serve more and more.
Some of our readers, seeing the letter in Oct. 15 TOWER from C. S. L., who, as a Hebrew, found the generally accepted doctrine of the trinity an obstacle to the acceptance of Christianity, have inquired our view of the subject. We refer all inquirers to our issue of June 1 & 15, 1892 (double number), which contains a full treatise of this subject, the Holy Spirit, etc. These we supply at eight cents per copy.
Mr. Gregory Ware publishes the following table to indicate the spread of Ritualism in the Church of England during ten years:
Number of churches in which used. 1882. 1892. --------------------- Eastward position, 1,662 3,918 Eucharistic vestments, 336 1,029 Altar lights, 581 2,048 Incense, 9 177
While the reading of the three volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN is first in importance to Bible students, our experience is that the good seed seldom brings forth much fruit unless the WATCH TOWER'S regular visits serve to water it.
|VOL. XV.||DECEMBER 1, 1894.||NO. 23.|
"If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." – John 8:36. "For the slave, being called by the Lord, is the Lord's freedman; in like manner, the freeman, being called, is Christ's bond-servant." – 1 Cor. 7:22.
But many have very different ideas of freedom from this, and are anxious to cast off all restraints of God and man and to pursue a selfish course untrammeled and without regard to either their obligations to God or the rights of their fellow-men. Such ideas of freedom lead only to riot, anarchy and destruction. And those who hold them look upon all the wholesome restraints of law and order as infringements of their rights and consider themselves in bondage under them. This is the rapidly growing sentiment all over the world to-day among the masses of men. And this is what makes the outlook for the future so ominous, threatening the utter wreck of the present social order in world-wide anarchy.
The reason for all this is that men have neither perfect hearts nor perfect heads. Having imperfect hearts, which do not love God supremely nor their neighbors as themselves, each is selfishly grabbing after all the advantages and privileges he can get without regard to the interests of his neighbor. And having also imperfect heads, they seem unable to reason correctly and to judge rightly between self and the neighbor. In fact, the whole human family is mentally unbalanced and morally deformed. We cannot therefore expect that, without superhuman aid, they will reach correct conclusions and learn to deal righteously.
Among men there are many grades of intellectual ability: some are broad minded, and, reaching out, can compass many conditions and their operations and foresee the ultimate results; while others are by inheritance narrow minded and can only view present circumstances apart from their general bearings and relationships. Then again, some minds are deep, able to probe and solve intricate problems with accuracy; while others are shallow, merely skimming the surface of great questions, not seeing nor seeking foundation principles. The broad and deep minds are but few, while the narrow and shallow are far more general; consequently, men are very far apart in their ideas and conclusions on every subject, and generally far astray from sound judgment. These things are, however, a part of our undesirable inheritance through sin, which polluted the fountain of our being, and left the entire race in this deranged condition.
Our only help under these circumstances is in God, who will give us the spirit – disposition – of a sound mind, if, in his appointed way, we [R1737 : page 372] come to him for it. (2 Tim. 1:7.) In his Word he lays down certain principles to guide us in judgment (Psa. 25:9) and help us to right conclusions. He tells us first that as a race we have fallen from our original perfection through the sin of our first progenitor, and that in consequence we are imperfect and unworthy of eternal life; but that through Christ he has redeemed us, so that if we repent of our sins and believe on him, we may now have eternal life, being made free from the condemnation which passed upon all men through Adam.
Thus we are made free from condemnation to death; and not only so, but now it is also our privilege to be liberated, through Christ, from the bondage and tyranny of Sin. As a hard task-master, Sin is driving all men to deeper degradation and death, and Christ undertakes to loose his fetters from all those who submit themselves to him for this purpose.
Dearly as we may love liberty, there is no man that actually possesses it now; for as the result of the fall all men became the slaves of Sin, and, to a great extent, the tools of Satan; and never, until the promised restitution of all things is completed, will men enjoy the precious boon of liberty in its full sense. This is one of the elements of the gospel – that Christ is to bring liberty to the captives of sin and death, and to let all the oppressed go free. – Isa. 61:1.
To fully emancipate all the slaves of Sin and Death is a work which will require the full thousand years of Christ's promised reign on earth; and the blessings of that emancipation will therefore not be fully realized until the thousand years are finished, when sin and Satan will be destroyed, never again to mar the face of God's fair creation. Then men can again be entrusted fully with the precious boon of liberty; and the liberty of one will not infringe upon the liberties of another. The perfect freedom of the entire race necessitates such restraints upon each individual of the race as brotherly love would dictate; and such restraint every man will impose upon himself when he has regained the original likeness of God, for God is love; and then it may also be truly said that man is love. And when man is love, it is God's purpose to give him fullest liberty to act out every impulse of his loving nature. And [R1738 : page 372] since "love worketh no ill to its neighbor," but delights itself rather in deeds of kindness and benevolence, this glorious liberty will fill the earth with peace and joy. And since love also delights in rendering honor to whom honor is due, and adoration to whom adoration, and praise to whom praise, and gratitude to whom gratitude, such will be the attitude of all men toward Jehovah, the giver of every good and perfect gift, and toward our Lord Jesus, whose self-sacrificing love became the channel for Jehovah's grace toward us, even while we were yet sinners.
Thus earth will be filled with the music of according hearts; and heaven and earth will be in perfect harmony when love, which is the fulfilling of the law of God, reigns supreme in every heart. Then the natural impulse of every heart will be to love God with all the heart, soul, mind and strength, and the neighbor as itself. This supreme love to God, even beyond the love of self, is entirely presumable when we consider that the elements of reverence and adoration must enter so largely into the love that is centered upon such a glorious object – glorious in his personality, glorious in his character, glorious in his wisdom, glorious in his power, and glorious in his benevolence and love and grace.
"Oh! what beauty
Beams in his all-glorious face."
Then indeed, and not till then, will the whole human race enjoy fullest liberty: a thing which will be simply impossible until then. Now, liberty to one class of men brings slavery to another; and the striving of classes, of nations and of individuals in the past, to throw off the yoke of bondage which the selfishness of others imposed upon them, has resulted occasionally to such classes and nations in a measure of release from the hand of tyranny; but individual liberty is still unrealized. Though the world has made some progress in this direction, so that limited monarchies have displaced the absolute, tyrannical monarchies of former ages, and republican forms of government have in some notable instances superseded these, yet [R1738 : page 373] Sin, as a hard master, still rules the world. Even under this republican government – the most free and liberal civil institution in the world – witness the party strifes and animosities, and the tyranny of class rule, and hear how the cry of the oppressed individuals comes up and enters into the ears of the Lord of armies. The whole world is oppressed under the hard taskmaster, Sin, who rules everywhere. He takes his seat in legislative halls, in executive mansions, in all political, financial and social counsels, and even in the solemn assemblies of God's professed children; and everywhere his tyranny is felt and his subjects suffer.
While the actual freedom or liberty of the sons of God is not yet enjoyed by any, the inheritance of it being lost by the fall, a few have regained their title to that inheritance through faith in Christ, who purchased it with his own precious blood for all who will accept it as the free gift of God's grace, through faith in him. And these few have, by faith, passed from death unto life (John 5:24; 1 John 3:14), and are now, therefore, reckoned free – free from sin and its condemnation, death, the righteousness of Christ being imputed to them by faith. Thus they hold a sure title to this glorious liberty, which all the sons of God will possess when fully restored to the divine likeness. Those who have this title the Apostle Paul urges to hold it fast, saying, "Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." – Gal. 5:1.
This exhortation can mean nothing more nor less than to hold on, by faith, to our justification – our title to life through Christ our Redeemer. This he was urging the Galatian Church to do, the exhortation being prompted by the efforts of some Judaizing teachers to bring them again under the bondage of the Law Covenant. – Gal. 3:1.
But while the full liberty of the sons of God is not yet ours, except by faith, let us consider what measure of that liberty is ours now. While in Christ we are reckoned of God as free from sin, and while we are therefore free from condemnation – justified – yet actually we realize the law of sin still working in our members, so that while our purpose and effort are to be perfect, the law of sin working in our members makes us realize continually that our actual liberty as sons of God is not yet possessed. And in this painful realization even we who have the firstfruits of the spirit, do groan being burdened. – Rom. 8:23.
But we have in Christ not only a Redeemer who paid our death penalty, but a Savior who in due time will deliver fully from every element of imperfection all who put their trust in him. The work of emancipation he will do for the world in the appointed times of the restitution of all things; and he will begin it at once with all those who then willingly and patiently submit themselves to his leading, acknowledging him as their Lord and King, as well as their Redeemer. In thus acknowledging Christ as Lord and King, both Christians now, and the world in the times of restitution, will, if fully loyal, render to him prompt and loving obedience, and that without questioning either his authority or his wisdom, in the full assurance of his loving purpose to finally and fully deliver from the terrible bondage to Sin, which has become so interwoven with the very fiber of our being that the process of emancipation must of necessity be long and painful.
In other words, before we can fully realize the actual liberty which God designed for all his sons, we must first become the willing servants of a new master, Christ, in order that he may accomplish our deliverance.
But although Christians are now, of their own free will and choice, under the authority of Christ, and their constant effort should be to bring every thought into captivity to his perfect will, even in this sort of bondage they are able to realize their freedom to the extent that they are able to partake of the spirit or mind of Christ; for, "Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (2 Cor. 3:17.) In the same way, when a man is sick, he must give up his will and personal liberty to the physician [R1738 : page 374] who undertakes to restore his health. The physician may prescribe nauseous doses; he may forbid certain coveted articles of diet; or he may subject his patient to painful surgical operations: but to all this severe treatment the man willingly submits, in hope of regaining his health. He and the physician are of the same mind, having the same object in view. Consequently, the patient does not feel that he is a slave forced under this treatment; but, having the same mind or spirit in the matter as the physician, he realizes his personal liberty. A child, on the contrary, unable to see the necessities of the case, and therefore unable to enter fully into the spirit of the physician and of the parents who must act for him, does not feel this liberty of his own will, but realizes that he is compelled to submit by those in authority over him. Such will be the case with the world, especially in the early experiences of the Millennial age. A difference will be that unless their wills are ultimately submitted restitution cures will never be granted. But with the consecrated children of God now, the case is more like that of the matured and intelligent patient.
Let us, then, while we willingly submit ourselves to Christ our Lord, partake largely of his spirit, and fully co-operate with him as a wise and skilled physician; and in so doing we will surely realize our liberty of mind as sons of God, even while we are undergoing the tedious and painful processes which are designed to accomplish our complete emancipation from the bondage of Sin.
"If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" – even now while our standing as free men in Christ is only a reckoned one. The freedom which we gain through Christ is (1) freedom from the condemnation of sin, and consequent access to God in whose favor is life eternal; (2) freedom from the bondage of fear concerning the future, and consequent rest and reliance upon him who has said, "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain thee;" (3) and daily as we submit ourselves to Christ we come to realize more and more of a release from the hereditary bondage of Sin. One after another, under the treatment of the Great Physician, we find the symptoms of the old disease of Sin disappearing, and we rejoice to find it so.
We find healing for our unsound minds in the balm of divine counsel. We find unerring standards of judgment by which to measure our own; and from the unerring precepts of righteousness and truth we drink in the spirit of a sound mind. And with this sound mind viewing all the experiences and conditions of life from the standpoint of the divine plan of the ages, we are enabled to weigh and properly estimate all present values and to count the good things of this present life as of no consequence in comparison to that for which we have covenanted to sacrifice them. We can even rejoice in tribulation for righteousness' sake.
But while we enjoy this blessed freedom in Christ, we are nevertheless under strictest bondage to Christ. As the Apostle Paul states it, we are bond-servants of Jesus Christ, and, like him, we glory in being so branded. (Gal. 6:17.) We realize that we are not our own, but that we are bought with a price, and that the consecration of our lives to him who purchased us is but a reasonable service.
"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." – 2 Cor. 7:1.
While the heart of every accepted child of God must be pure from the very beginning of his Christian life (otherwise he is not accepted or owned as a child), yet, as the Apostle suggests above, there must be from that time onward a gradual work of perfecting holiness in the fear (filial fear) of God. That is (being graciously reckoned of God as holy through Christ, from the hour of our entire consecration to his will, because our will and effort are to be so), we are to go on striving daily against our natural imperfections, and endeavoring as nearly as possible to make the reckoned holiness more and more actual. Thus we should continue to grow in grace and in the actual likeness of the Lord.
Some Christians make the very serious mistake of supposing that they, as merely passive subjects, may receive instantaneously the blessing of holiness as a mark of God's special favor. But such a conception is very far from the Apostle's idea, as expressed above. He represents the attainment of holiness as a life work, and the individual Christian as the active, and not as the passive, agent in accomplishing it. From the standpoint of a reckoned holiness he is to go on, day after day, and year after year, in the work of actual cleansing of himself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit – of person and of mind – "perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord."
In the exceeding great and precious promises we have abundant incentives to strive daily to perfect holiness; but these must be held before the mind that they be not crowded into the background by the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of its pursuits. The pure in heart – whose will is only to serve and please him – do see God by faith and with the eyes of their understanding. They see him in his Word and his plan, as he graciously opens it up to their minds as meat in due season; they see him in his mighty works – of creation, and of redemption and salvation; they see him in nature, whose open book is ever eloquent in his praise to those who have eyes to read; by faith they see him in the secret closet communions when there is no eye to see and no ear to hear but God's, where the heart may freely unburden itself of its load and lay down its cares and feel that unutterable sense of divine sympathy and love which only those can understand who have taken the Lord as their personal friend and counselor. They see him, too, in his providences; for, having entered into their closets and shut to the door and prayed to their Father in secret, the open reward of his sure and safe leading always follows, according to his promise.
How blessed it is thus to see God – to realize his presence and power and his abiding favor in all the vicissitudes of life; to watch him and see how, as the days and years go by, he makes all things work together for good to them that love him, and to see also, from the grand standpoint of observation he gives us, how glorious a destiny he has carved out for us and for all the willing and obedient subjects of his authority.
If we cultivate acquaintance with God and with our Lord Jesus, communing with them through the divine word and prayer, almost unconsciously to ourselves the work of perfecting holiness progresses. To be thus in communion with them is to receive more and more of their mind and disposition. And having the mind of God thus in us, as the controlling principle of our actions, to what purifications of the flesh it will also lead!
It begins at once to clean up the whole man. Old unclean, as well as sinful, habits are put away; unseemly conversation is not permitted to pass the door of the lips, or if, by force of old habit, slips of this kind occur, they are promptly repented of and rectified; and unholy thoughts are not entertained. The same spirit of holiness prompts also to the cleansing and purifying of the body, the clothing, the home, and all with which we have to do; for the outward man must be in conformity with the pure heart within, and with the heavenly guests that make their abode with us. – John 14:23.
It is quite possible, however, that the more we succeed in purifying ourselves of the old carnal nature, the more we may realize the imperfections that still remain; for the purifying process is also an educating one: we learn to appreciate and admire purity, holiness, the more [R1739 : page 376] thoroughly we assimilate it, until "the beauty of holiness" becomes the most desirable of all possessions, that which is lacking of its glory is our deepest concern and the great work of perfecting holiness becomes the chief business of life. Let the good work go on, dearly beloved, and, in the end, the Lord himself shall be your exceeding great reward.
Lord, let me talk with Thee of all I do,
All that I care for, all I wish for, too.
Lord, let me prove Thy sympathy, Thy power,
Thy loving oversight from hour to hour!
When I need counsel, let me ask of Thee:
Whatever my perplexity may be,
It cannot be too trivial to bring,
To one who marks the sparrow's drooping wing,
Nor too terrestrial since Thou hast said
The very hairs are numbered on our head.
'Tis through such loop-holes that the foe takes aim,
And sparks, unheeded, burst into a flame.
Do money troubles press? Thou canst resolve
The doubts and dangers such concerns involve.
Are those I love the cause of anxious care?
Thou canst unbind the burdens they may bear.
Before the mysteries of Thy word or will,
Thy voice can gently bid my heart be still,
Since all that now is hard to understand
Shall be unraveled in yon heavenly land.
Or do I mourn the oft-besetting sin,
The tempter's wiles, that mar the peace within?
Present Thyself, Lord, as the absolving priest,
To whom confessing, I go forth released.
Do weakness, weariness, disease, invade
This earthly house, which Thou, Thyself, hast made?
Thou, only, Lord, canst touch the hidden spring
Of mischief, and attune the jarring string.
Would I be taught what Thou wouldst have me give,
The needs of those less favored to relieve?
Thou canst so guide my hand that I shall be
A liberal "cheerful giver," Lord, like Thee.
Of my life's mission do I stand in doubt,
Thou knowest and canst clearly point it out.
Whither I go, do Thou Thyself decide
And choose the friends and servants at my side.
The books I read, I would submit to Thee,
Let them refresh, instruct and solace me.
I would converse with Thee from day to day
With heart intent on what Thou hast to say;
And through my pilgrim walk, whate'er befall,
Consult with Thee, O Lord, about it all.
Since Thou art willing thus to condescend
To be my intimate, familiar friend,
Oh, let me to the great occasion rise,
And count Thy friendship life's most glorious prize.
Last spring an important movement began in the Episcopal churches of Cleveland for the purpose of unifying the various Christian denominations. A little later a plan for the federation of the various branches of the Presbyterian church was agreed upon by a representative committee at their meeting in Philadelphia to be recommended to their appointing bodies for adoption.
"In Australasia, by the action of the General Quadrennial Methodist Conference, a committee [R1740 : page 376] was appointed to carry into effect the proposals for the reunion of the various Methodist divisions, so that there, as in Canada, the consolidation of the various Methodist sects into one church will soon be completed.
"The manifesto of the Congregational State Association of New Jersey, issued last spring, is another important contribution to the reunion movement. It practically proposes an alliance of the Reformed and Presbyterian churches, five in all, and a basis of formal union with the Free Baptist and 'Christian' churches, and in its 'Quadrilateral' formulates also a plan for the federation at least of the various Protestant churches of the United States.
"The federation of churches for common religious and social work has gained a decided impetus in recent months, especially in England, and to some extent in this country. In the former, the Nonconformist churches of Surrey and Hampshire, and in the midland counties about Nottingham, in municipal centers like Birmingham and Manchester, have united for federated efforts.
"Still another sign of the progress of the desire [R1740 : page 377] for union is found in the wide appeal made for the observance of last Whitsunday as a day of special intercession for the reunion of the churches of Christendom. The archbishop of Canterbury and the archbishop of Dublin, together with four bishops of the English church and a number of dignitaries of the Irish church, joined in this appeal. The moderator of the church of Scotland, the presidents of all the Methodist conferences, the chairman of the Baptist Union, and leading Congregational ministers, preached on the subject.
"The Grindewald Conference for 1894 discussed the subject of reunion and related church problems. As on similar occasions, representatives of all branches of the Protestant church spoke on this absorbing theme; and the new contribution thus made to the literature of the question serves to augment the interest already awakened throughout Christendom.
Not only are the various subdivisions of the leading Protestant denominations of Christendom drawing together, but they are seeking also a closer affiliation with the church of Rome, which also strongly reciprocates the sentiment, and with all its characteristic subtlety and energy is enlisted in the scheme.
"Thank God there is a yearning desire for the reunion of Christianity among many noble and earnest souls. This desire is particularly manifested in the English speaking world. It is manifested in England and in the United States. I myself have received several letters from influential Protestant ministers expressing the hope of a reunion, and inquiring as to the probable basis of a reconciliation. Reunion is the great desire of my heart. I have longed and prayed for it during all the years of my ministry. I have prayed that as we are bound to our brethren by social and family and by natural and commercial ties, so may we be united with them in the bonds of a common faith."
"The conditions of reunion are easier than are generally imagined. Of course there can be no compromise on faith or morals. The doctrine and moral code that Christ has left us must remain unchangeable. But the church can modify her discipline to suit the circumstances of the case.
"Every well-organized society must have a recognized head. The mayor and governor hold this position in the municipal and state governments; the President is the head of the republic; the Pope is the head of the church. The Papacy is as necessary to the church as the Presidency is to the republic.
"In coming back to the church, you are not entering a strange place; you are returning to your father's house. The furniture may seem odd to you, but it is just the same as your fathers left three hundred and fifty years ago. You worship as have your fathers worshiped. You kneel before the altar at which they knelt. You receive the sacraments which they received.... You come back like the prodigal to your father's house, and the garment of joy is placed upon you, and the banquet of love is set before you, and you receive the kiss of peace as a pledge of your filiation and adoption. You can say with the Apostle, 'we are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens of the saints [of the calendar of the Roman church].'
"One hearty embrace of your tender mother will more than compensate you for all the sacrifices you may have made. The leaders of the Reformation...dismembered the Christian flock. They scandalized the Gentile world by the dissensions which have prevailed, and have retarded the onward march of Christianity.... May the day be hastened when the scattered hosts of Christendom will form an army [literally, no doubt – EDITOR] which infidelity and atheism cannot long resist; and they would soon carry the light of faith and Christian civilization to the most remote and benighted parts of the earth."
"Pope Leo XIII. has recently been occupied with a conference in Rome of the patriarchs of the oriental churches, the final intent of which is the reunion of all churches in the East with the church of Rome. This, if accomplished, will be the greatest achievement of the pontificate of the present pope, and will make the name of Leo XIII. one of the most famous of this century. [R1740 : page 378]
"The most important oriental churches now separate from Rome are the Chaldean, under the patriarch of Babylon, which has its adherents in Mesopotamia, Persia and the island of Malabar, and which separated from the Catholic church in the fifth century; and the Abyssinian church, with branches in Egypt, depending on a patriarch in Cairo, which separated in the fifth century also. There are also other sects from Mesopotamia and Armenia. The most important of all, however, is the Greek church, which extends through Greece, European Turkey, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, and Palestine. She has still her four patriarchs at Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, each being independent. This church was united to Rome until the twelfth century and reunited by the councils of Lyons and Florence. When Turkey took Constantinople there was a definite separation.
"The Eastern or Greek church is really the parent stock; the Catholic church seceded from it when the Eastern patriarchs refused to acknowledge the supremacy of Rome. Some small conflicts of doctrine precipitated the division; but the main reason why the Christian church split in two in 1054 was the claim of the Eastern patriarchs for absolute independence, and the contention of the Pope that he was the paramount authority in matters ecclesiastic.
"In the main the doctrines of both were the same. In form and rites differences crept in and a wide gulf between the two was opened by the final settlement of the controversy over the marriage of priests. Before the eleventh century celibacy or marriage were open questions which each Bishop regulated in his own diocese according to his judgment of the best interests of the church. Some time after that date the church of Rome adopted the law of priestly celibacy and made it obligatory. The patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch and Constantinople took a different view. They not only allowed priests to marry, but unmarried priests could not be ordained: though, if their first wives died, they could not marry again. But it was established as a rule of the church that a Bishop must be a monk sworn to celibacy. Both rules are in force to-day.
"The Russian government has recently ordered all priests of the Roman Catholic faith now imprisoned in Siberia to be liberated. Orders have been given to stop all interference with the Catholic churches in Poland. At Athens, Belgrade and Bucharest, which are headquarters of the Greek church, the scheme is noticed approvingly. On the other hand the Pope has endowed a Greek church seminary in Italy with a large annual sum. Pope Leo has also endowed the Armenian and Greek colleges at Rome and the Greek church seminary of St. Anne's at Jerusalem. Cardinal Vanutelli, one of the most eminent prelates of the Papal court, has recently published a book going to show that reunion, far from weakening either church, would strengthen them both.
"This immensely important meeting, which now takes place, is one of the greatest events in the history of the relations between Rome and the East. There is no precedent to compare it to in the annals of Catholicism. To obtain this reunion of the oriental churches with the Roman the pope intends to create a special congregation for them, quite separate from the propaganda, with a cardinal for prefect whom he would nominate. The pope would leave to the oriental churches all their privileges and rites, only demanding that the patriarchs elected by the synod of bishops should submit their elections for the approbation of the Roman pontiff, to whom the examination of all questions of dogmatic and ecclesiastic rights would be reserved. For asking so little it is believed that Leo XIII. will succeed, as the principal point of discussion in the eastern churches has always been the fear of being sacrificed to Rome and the Latins. The pope wishes to show that the papacy is neither Latin nor western, but universal. After the meeting he will issue an encyclical to the eastern church, which will be a development of what he recently wrote in the Praeclara encyclical about the union of the churches.
"Above all we note the absence of the Patriarch of the Armenians. We shall not on this account, however, recede from our purpose.... Nothing will prevent us from solving the grand problem from the religious side, while awaiting more propitious times for the rest of the work." [R1741 : page 379]
The points to be specially noticed are, (1) The willingness of Catholics as well as Protestants to make concessions in the interest of reunion. This might be considered a favorable sign, were the motives and considerations good ones. But they are selfish motives. Not brotherly love, but fear, is the mainspring of this desire for union. The fear is that mentioned by our Lord in his prophecy concerning our day. "Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven [religious powers] shall be shaken." (Luke 21:26.) It is a part of the general fear that has taken hold of the leaders in financial, political and religious circles. The leaders of Catholicism note the shaking as surely as the leaders among Protestants, and all feel that union is the only means of increasing their influence, or even of preserving their existence.
Especially is this true on the part of the Church of Rome. She still boasts of the infallibility of her teachings, which declare most positively that there is no escape from everlasting torment outside of her communion. Does she confess the errors of her past course and teachings, and claim to be reforming? If so, that would be a step in the right direction. But no, she still boasts of her unchangeableness; and consequently we must believe that her present attitude and recent utterances respecting Protestants and the Bible are Jesuitical and hypocritical, and for her own purposes merely.
Protestants have less policy and more sincerity in their desire for union. They too, however, desire it chiefly for strength and prestige before the world, and not from heart-love of Christian fellowship. Each sect is anxious to hold to its own traditions and doctrines and name, although all confess that there is really little in their confessions of faith worth contending for anyway. Indeed, we could rejoice in this feature were it not that with the mass of musty error they are discarding also the very root and essence of Scripture doctrine; viz., faith in Christ as the Redeemer who paid the ransom for all at Calvary. But all is going, good and bad, and gentility and morality are soon to be the only tests of Christian name and fellowship – all this to keep nominal Christianity popular with the world and to insure the continuance of its outward show of prosperity, in which thrifty "tares" are mistaken for "wheat."
The leaders of the World's Parliament of Religions, of a year ago, it will be remembered, suggested even the dropping of the name Christian, and the use of the term Religious Union, so as to unite, not only all the denominations called Christian, but also the various heathen systems, in a universal church; and this suggestion should awaken all true believers to the real situation. As they see all the "tares" being thus bound together, they should the more forcibly realize the meaning of our Lord's words, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and receive not of her plagues."
But all this only confirms us in the correctness of our interpretation of prophecy. It will be remembered by old readers that, so long ago as 1880, we pointed out in these columns that the Scriptures foretold a combination or federation of Protestants and their subsequent cooperation with Papacy. Every step of the way now, as this union develops, will be watched by us all with interest.
But from the same Scriptures we learn that the union will last but a short time, and that instead of its being favorable to the truth and the Lord's saints, it will be the reverse, except as He shall overrule it in their special interest. Therefore, – "Say not ye [God's consecrated people], a confederacy [a union], neither fear ye their fear nor be afraid." – Isa. 8:12-16.
Rome, Nov. 29. – "The Pope has appointed a theological commission to inquire into the validity of ordinations in the Anglican church [R1741 : page 380] from the view point of the Roman doctrine. His Holiness has invited Cardinal Vaughan to Rome to discuss the union of the Anglican and Roman churches. He also proposes to submit a specific scheme to a conference of Cardinals, as in the case of the Eastern churches. The Pope is still engaged on the encyclical on the English church question."
We learn also, upon good authority, that it is the intention of the Pope to issue in January, 1895, two or three encyclical letters; one freeing the Papal delegate of the United States (at present Satolli) from the supervision of the congregation of the Propaganda of Rome, making him responsible to the Pope only; another relating to the relationship of the Roman church in South America to secular governments; and another to the Bishops in England, discussing the position of the church of Rome, possibly suggesting terms of union with the church of England.
"Their endeavors will be to bring the Episcopal churches back to the old ceremonial of the mediaeval days, when the church was still in communion with the Roman Catholic church, and a very considerable and influential part of it. They do not disguise the fact that it would be their highest realization to have all the Catholic churches reunited under one and the same head – the Pope of Rome – the Greeks, who for several centuries have been separated from it by schism, and the Episcopalians, who were separated from the Mother church during the reign of Henry VIII.
"Rev. Robert A. Gibson, pastor of Christ Episcopal church was seen and said: 'The proposed movement is not for a consolidation of the Episcopalian, Greek and Roman churches alone, but of all denominations, Catholic and Protestant. It is in the distant future, and we may not live to see it, but it will come. The Episcopal church first proposed it 1886 and asked for a general conference to come to an understanding upon the matters of baptism, sacrament and local episcopate. At first none of the churches gave it much consideration, but now the Presbyterians have appointed a committee to confer with the Episcopalians, and it is receiving the careful attention of other denominations.'
"The Episcopalian church and the church of England, numbering 10,000,000 people, are virtually pledged to it. The object is, organic union of all denominations, to present a solid front against heathenism. We are a long way in advance of the days when heretics were burned, and are rapidly approaching the time when a universal church will be possible, although it may take a good while yet."
IV. QUAR., LESSON X., DEC. 9, LUKE 8:4-15.
This parable needs no further explanation than that which the great Teacher gave. But his words should be carefully pondered and should lead to self-examination, as not the hearers only, but the doers of the Word, are acceptable with God.
It is worthy of special notice, however, that the Lord expected his disciples to see the drift of this parable without inquiring [R1742 : page 380] for an explanation. "And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables? Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables, that seeing, they may see and not perceive; and hearing, they may hear and not understand, lest at any time they should be converted and their sins should be forgiven them." – Mark 4:10-13. See also Isa. 6:9,10; Matt. 13:12-17; John 12:39,40; Acts 28:25-28; Rom. 11:7.
While our Lord thus indicated that his disciples should have been able to interpret this parable, because of their knowledge of the truth it was designed to illustrate, it is not to be inferred that all his parables were so simple as to be promptly understood at the time they were spoken. Many of them illustrated truths not revealed at that time, and hence they could not be understood then. The expression, "To you it is given," etc., applies, not only to the disciples of that day, but to the disciples all through the age. While the truth is made manifest gradually, more and more, as meat in due season, the parables which illustrated those truths can only be seen as illustrations as [R1742 : page 381] the truths they illustrate become manifest.
To "them that are without" – outside the pale of the believing disciples – which included the whole nation of Israel except a small "remnant," these illustrations of the truth were, of course, as dark as were the truths themselves to which they allowed their prejudices to blind their eyes, greatly to their own detriment. And it was for this very reason – because their hearts were not right, and they were therefore unworthy of the truth and its blessings – that the Lord opened his mouth in parables and dark sayings, so that they might fail to perceive the blessings of which they were proving themselves unworthy. It was because of this unworthiness that blindness came upon Israel, and that it will continue until the fulness of the Gentiles shall have come into possession of those blessings which were first offered to Israel and rejected by them.
IV. QUAR., LESSON XI., DEC. 16, MATT. 10:5-16.
In this lesson we have an account of the method which the Lord pursued in the harvest work of the Jewish age. This is a topic which should be of very special interest to those who recognize the present as the harvest time of the Gospel age, and who believe that the same Lord of the harvest is now present directing and superintending the work of this harvest as he did that (See Rev. 14:14; Matt. 13:30; Mark 4:26-29); and who see further, that the two ages correspond to each other as type and antitype.*
In the two harvests we see a remarkable correspondence, not only in the exactly equal time allotted to each – 40 years – but also in the character of the work to be done and the methods of doing it. The present harvest work has now been in successful operation for twenty years (1874-1894), and the methods which the Lord's providence has indicated and blessed have been very similar to those of the Jewish harvest. Though the Lord is not visibly present here, as he was there, we have the assurance of his Word, as above cited, that the work is his – under his direction, supervision and full control; and he who does not believe this has no authority for engaging in it; he is not sent. But he who is sent, and who goes under the Lord's direction, is appointed to one of the grandest privileges that was ever offered to any man, although now, as in the Jewish harvest, the present reward is nothing that the world would envy. – Matt. 10:16-28,34-36.
While the methods in this harvest and the Jewish have been similar, there is no reason to believe that they ought to be exactly alike; for the Lord of the harvest is surely at liberty to adopt in either case the methods that please him best: and in each case he has evidently taken cognizance of the conditions and circumstances of the times, and adapted his methods accordingly. The following points of similarity and dissimilarity in the methods of the two harvests are worthy of comparison as indicating first, the similarity of the work, and, secondly, the freedom of the Lord in adapting his methods to the circumstances of the times.
In the Jewish harvest the Lord sent out first the twelve, and then the seventy, and was ready to send as many more as might become ready; for, said he, "The harvest is great, and the laborers are few." (Luke 10:1-12.) He sent them out two and two under his direction and supervision. He also gave them a message to declare and instructions how and to whom to declare it, and required that those going forth should be fully consecrated to the work, being filled with his spirit. Indeed, such were his forewarnings of the present wages they should receive, that none would undertake it except such as had learned to walk by faith, who were willing to "endure hardness as good soldiers," and whose "treasure" was "laid up in heaven."
In the present harvest the same course is manifest. Since its beginning in 1874, the Lord has been instructing his consecrated disciples in the truths of another new dispensation, revealing the glorious harmony and beauty of his plan in outline and detail, and also its orderly times and seasons; and as they have become prepared he has been sending them out – generally two and two, where they have been able to give their [R1742 : page 382] whole time to the work – to declare, "The Kingdom of heaven is at hand!" (in its glory and completeness now, as, at the time of the Jewish harvest, it was at hand in its embryo condition) and to explain and prove the truth of the message.
As in the Jewish harvest the Lord's instructions confined the special work of those messengers to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, so his instructions here confine the special work of his messengers to the household of faith – spiritual Israel. – Gal. 6:10; Isa. 52:7.
Here, too, as there, they have been forewarned of that which their experience bears out; viz., that there is no earthly gain in it, no ease or worldly honor, no present reward except the blessed consciousness of being a co-worker with God and of knowing the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ, the joys of heart-communion with him now, and the hope of future glory in his presence. Only those who accept of these conditions, and who are willing to endure hardness as good soldiers, being impelled thereto by the spirit of the Lord abiding in them, have any desire or incentive to this service; and if any such grow weary in well doing and look longingly back to the things left behind, it is not long before they drop out by the way.
(1) Those sent out in that harvest preached the truth orally, and attention was drawn to them and their message by reason of the miracles which they were empowered to perform; while in this harvest the preaching is done largely by the printed page, disseminated through the agency of traveling colporteurs sent out generally two and two to bear the message.
The propriety of this feature of the change is very manifest, since now education has become general and the printing press has largely multiplied the influence of every one of the harvesters. By taking advantage of this modern invention they magnify the influence of the truth a thousand fold. And in consequence of these improved facilities of printing and of general education, and the still greater advantage of nineteen centuries of gospel privilege and blessing, the truth now needs no such endorsement as the miracle-working power given at first, and so necessary then to the awakening of attention and the confirmation of the truth. In fact such methods now would be out of harmony with the thief-like presence and mission of the Lord here. (Rev. 16:15; Matt. 24:43,44; 1 Thess. 5:2.) If he comes as a thief, it is not to sound a trumpet before him, calling the world's attention to his work. Those gifts gradually disappeared from the Church as the necessity for them decreased. When faith gained a sure and substantial footing, such helps were taken away, and believers were expected to walk by faith, and not any longer by sight.
(2) Those sent out in that harvest were instructed to depend upon the people to whom they went for support in temporal things, while the reapers of this harvest are independent of such means, greatly to the advantage of the work. The reason for this variation is also manifest. In the Jewish harvest the reapers were sent exclusively to a consecrated people. The entire nation had bound itself by a solemn covenant to the Lord (Exod. 19:8), and in consequence had been specially favored in many ways, but chiefly in that to them were committed the oracles (the law and the testimonies) of God. (Rom. 3:1,2.) According to their covenant, therefore, it was the duty, and it should have been esteemed by them a privilege, to receive and entertain any messenger of the Lord whose credentials warranted such a claim and thus protected them from impostors – as theirs did, their personal character and demeanor and the divine testimony of miracles thus endorsing them. It was because of this preparation of Israel as a people for the reception of the [R1743 : page 382] gospel (whether they had profited by it or not), that they were expected to recognize both the harvest message and the appointed and attested messengers; and their opportunity for either receiving or rejecting them was the first applied test of their worthiness of the special favors then about to be offered to them. It was on this account that the harvesters were instructed to go to that people in a manner to impress them with a sense of their obligations as a covenant people to receive and gladly to entertain the messengers of the Lord to them. Throughout the whole nation the fame of the Messiah and the divine attestations of his power and authority had spread (Matt. 4:23-25; Mark 1:28,32-34,45; 6:31-34; 8:26,27; Luke 4:14,15,36,37; Matt. 9:26,31; 14:1,2), [R1743 : page 383] and these now sent forth in his name represented him, so that in receiving them they were receiving him, and in rejecting them they were rejecting him. Hence the blessing promised on their reception, and denunciations that followed their rejection. (Verses 11-15.) When they departed out of the city or house that rejected them, they were to shake off the very dust of their feet for a testimony against them, because that, in so doing, they were violating their most solemn covenant with God and bringing upon themselves the just condemnation of such a course. That condemnation, however, was not to eternal death, but to deprivation of the privileges and blessings of the new dispensation then about to be offered to them, but of which they proved themselves unworthy. Nor was the condemnation, either then or at the full end of their age, an individual one; for although the nation as a whole was cast off from divine favor and blinded, and destined to remain so until the gospel favor had passed over to the Gentiles, yet, during this time, if any individual of the nation repented and severed his ties with the nation and family (which the persecuting spirit of the nation has always compelled), he might, through such tribulation, enter into the embryo kingdom – the Gospel Church.
In this harvest the circumstances attending the work are in many respects quite different. Though here also the Lord has a consecrated people – nominal spiritual Israel – they are not a local nation within a circumscribed boundary, but they are scattered here and there as wheat in the midst of tares. The reapers here must therefore search them out singly, while there they were grouped in cities and families and as an entire nation.
Again, the circumstances here are the reverse of those there in that the testimony to the truth is given in the midst of a very babel of voices, all claiming to teach the truth; and so great is the confusion that only the consecrated and faithful souls, whose practised ears know the Master's voice from all others, are able to discern it. They have an affinity for the truth: the holy spirit within them recognizes the same spirit in the message, as well as in the messengers, and it satisfies their longings as nothing else can do.
Thus the harvest message becomes a test of faithfulness to God's covenant people here, and as a sickle it accomplishes the reaping. These different circumstances and conditions of this harvest make necessary the very reverse of the former method of the dependence of the messengers upon the hospitality of the people. Now, in order to make manifest that no mercenary motives, or motives of indolence, or love of ease, or popularity, or of desire to impose on others prompt the reapers of this harvest, the Lord in his providence has so arranged the work here that all such motives are manifestly eliminated from the harvest work; and it is seen to be a self-sacrificing labor of love, prompted by that devotion and zeal which the truth alone inspires. And this of itself commends the truth to the attention of the Lord's people where the messenger comes in contact with them, though often it reaches them through the printed page alone, where the luster of the truth is its own commendation.
This difference in the two harvests was aptly illustrated by the Lord when he likened the Jewish nation to wheat and chaff, and his work there to a fan for blowing the chaff away – thus indicating the compactness of that people; while here his professed people are likened to wheat and tares, thus indicating their scattered and confused condition and the necessity of careful searching and gathering out.
It would therefore be entirely out of order for the reapers in this harvest to denounce or shake off the dust of their feet for a testimony against any city now, for no city or community as such is now in covenant relations with God as was Israel; and so different are the customs and circumstances of this time that a man might brush the dust and denounce the people for a week and not be noticed, or, if noticed, merely considered as of unsound mind, so intent are the masses of the people on pursuing their own course and grasping after gain.
The consequence now to those who recognize and yet reject the truth will be very similar to those which followed Israel's rejection (their complete overthrow in the midst of great tribulation), excepting that the increased light and privilege of this time will merit and receive the greater punishment – "a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation." (Dan. 12:1.) Surely, then, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah (Matt. 10:15) in the day of judgment (the Millennial age) than for the condemned house of Israel, either [R1743 : page 384] fleshly or spiritual, which are judged unworthy of the grace of God, because they cast it from them. The judgment upon condemned fleshly Israel was a terrible overthrow in the midst of harrowing scenes of war and desolation and famine, leaving them utterly desolate and scattering them as fugitives among all nations; while that which is shortly to come upon nominal spiritual Israel is described as a time of unparalleled trouble, such as never has been and never again shall be.
Another point of contrast which this lesson suggests is that between the Lord's methods for the harvest work of the Jewish age and the subsequent methods of the inspired Apostles, equally under the Lord's direction and supervision, which not only winnowed the grain of that harvest, but also sought to systematically store it. The wheat of that dispensation was to form the nucleus of the Christian Church – the embryo kingdom of heaven – which as a compact and sympathetic body subject to Christ, imbued with his spirit, and representing his truth, was to stand before the world as a living testimony to his truth and to the power of his grace for nearly two thousand years. It was necessary, therefore, as believers multiplied in the days of the apostles, to adopt some simple method of recognition which would serve to unify them and to make them helpful one to another as members of one body.
But as that work of organizing the Church of the new Gospel dispensation was no part of the harvest work of the old Jewish dispensation, so the present harvest work or reaping of the Gospel dispensation is also separate and distinct from the work of the new Millennial dispensation now drawing on. But there is this difference between our days and those of the apostles: the wheat of the Gospel age is not to form the nucleus of another Church for the Millennial age; and those gathered out from among the tares are not beginning, but are finishing their course on earth, and the time of their sojourn in the flesh is very short and cannot go beyond the twenty years of harvest yet remaining. Their organization for the work of the new dispensation will be beyond the vail, when they are changed to the glorious likeness of the Lord.
In view of these facts and also of the nature of the harvest work, and the additional fact that each one so gathered is expected to enter into the harvest work as a reaper, and will do so to the extent of his ability and opportunity, it is plain that the forming of a visible organization of such gathered out ones would be out of harmony with the spirit of the divine plan; and, if done, would seem to indicate on the part of the Church a desire to conform to the now popular idea of organization or confederacy. (See Isa. 8:12.) The work now is not organization, but division, just as it was in the Jewish harvest proper (Matt. 10:34-36.) And this harvest, as illustrated by the natural, is the busiest time of all the age, because the time is short and the "winter" is fast approaching. What is to be done must be done quickly, and there is abundant room in the great field for every member of the body of Christ to reap.
While, therefore, we do not esteem a visible organization of the gathered ones to be a part of the Lord's plan in the harvest work, as though we expected as an organization to abide here for another age, we do esteem it to be his will that those that love the Lord should speak often one to another of their common hopes and joys, or trials and perplexities, communing together concerning the precious things of his Word, and so help one another, and not forget the assembling of themselves together as the manner of some is; and so much the more as they see the day approaching. – Mal. 3:16; Heb. 10:25.
Let us, then, give ourselves diligently to the great harvest work, observing and carefully following the providential lines for the guidance of the work as indicated by the Lord of the harvest – the same Lord, and just as truly present and active in this harvest as in the Jewish harvest, though invisible to mortal sight. What dignity and grandeur and blessed inspiration does the realization of this truth give our humble services! Truly it is not a glory which the world can discern, but faithfulness to the end of our course will bring an exceeding and eternal weight of glory which will appear to all God's intelligent creatures of every name and order; for in the ages to come he will show forth the exceeding riches of his grace in his loving kindness toward us who are in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:7); and, praise the Lord! our exaltation and glory will be for a grand and benevolent service – even the privilege of scattering universal blessings.
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.
The Supplement which accompanies this issue is not to be considered "an appeal," nor "a request," for money for the Tract Fund. It is nothing of the kind. It is merely sent out as a convenience for such of our readers as are anxious to have a hand in the good work which the Lord is now doing, and who appreciate the privilege of being co-workers with us in it.
The name may be original with us, but the plan is not. It is the Lord's arrangement through the great Apostle Paul. (See 1 Cor. 16:2.) It is not given as a law; there is no such bondage – no tithing under the New Covenant. But as a suggestion it certainly is a good one, and has, so far as we are aware, proved a blessing to all who have observed it. It has not only enlarged their contributions to the Lord's cause, but it has correspondingly enlarged their hearts, and increased their love and deepened their interest in the truths which they thus practically confess.
The "Good Hopes" enable us to judge, somewhat in advance, of the amount of money at our disposal for the year, and permit us to contract accordingly; and where large quantities and low prices are factors, this is of considerable importance.
True, many failed considerably of what they had "hoped" to do for the cause during this year; but they received the blessing which always comes from willingness to render the Lord service and trying to do it. On the whole, as will be noted from the Reports in this issue, our Great Provider made up from other sources what he did not see best to entrust to their disposal.
Excavations certain to add to the knowledge of the old city of Jerusalem are soon to be made. The Sultan has granted a firman to the Palestine Exploration Society, of London, giving a long-sought privilege. The permission to dig includes a generous strip of land all around the walls on the outside, excluding only Moslem burying-grounds and holy places.
The work is to be done under the direction of Frederick Bliss, a young American of considerable reputation as an archaeological explorer. Shafts are to be sunk on the hill of Ophel, where were the royal gardens and the tombs of the kings. It is hardly possible that this ground can be turned up without valuable discoveries being made. One thing hoped for is that the old wall that swept around the southern brow of Zion may be found.
The imperial firman grants a two years' privilege, time enough to make the old city of Solomon and the Jebusites tell some of its long hidden secrets.
|VOL. XV.||DECEMBER 15, 1894.||NO. 24.|
"Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart: who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek the face of the God of Jacob." – Psa. 24:3-6.
The earth, the world, the seas and the floods, the hills and the mountains are all used here, as in numerous other instances, in a symbolic, and not in a literal sense, which would be absurd in this connection. The earth and the world represent the present social order of things, or human society as at present organized. The seas and the floods represent an increasingly large class of mankind which restlessly recoils against the restraints of the present social order and at times grows turbulent and threatening. The hills and mountains represent governments.
When the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof, it will not be because all the kingdoms of this world will have been converted to God and purified, and their kings permitted to reign by the grace of God, as they now claim to do, and because all the now restless masses of men will have become docile and submissive to the present governing powers; but it will be as the prophet declares, because God will have "founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods." That is, the present earth, or social organization, and the present heavens, or ruling powers, will have passed away, and the new earth will be established upon the ruins of the old. When the waves of the restless sea-element of society shall have arisen in their might and overwhelmed the whole present social order, so that the wild and stormy sea of anarchy shall prevail everywhere, then, amidst the wreck and ruin, the desolation and universal despondency and despair, the voice of Jehovah will be heard, saying, "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psa. 46:10.) And out of the wild commotion of that stormy sea God will bring order and peace.
Instead of this restless sea of humanity he will found the new earth, the new order of things; yea, and he will firmly establish it upon [in place of] the floods: there he will establish his Kingdom "which cannot be moved." (Heb. 12:28.) And he will set his King upon his holy hill of Zion, and give to him the nations for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for [R1744 : page 388] his possession. (Psa. 2:6,8.) Then indeed shall the King, the Lord's anointed, reign in righteousness; and princes shall decree justice (Isa. 32:1); and, in consequence, there shall be abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. – Psa. 72:7.
There will then be but one Kingdom (mountain or hill) in all the world – the Kingdom of God; and his Anointed will be King in all the earth in that day. (Zech. 14:9.) This hill or kingdom of the Lord is that to which the Psalmist refers when he raises the question, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? and who shall stand in his holy place?" To ascend into the hill of the Lord is to come into his Kingdom as loyal and obedient subjects, as true citizens, worthy of all its blessings and privileges, and not as aliens and foreigners, having no part or lot in the common interests and inheritance of all the true and loyal people of God, viz., eternal life and all its blessings of righteousness, peace and everlasting joy. Who indeed shall be counted worthy thus to ascend into the mountain of the Lord? "And who shall stand in his holy place?" The reference here is to the antitype of the typical temple of God, which, standing upon the top of Mount Zion, prefigured the glorious true temple, the Church of the living God, in Kingdom power and glory. Who shall stand in that holy place in that age of glory and blessing now so near at hand? – who shall be counted worthy to reign with Christ in his Kingdom?
The answer to both inquiries is the same – He that hath clean hands and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully." These will be the required qualifications for citizenship in the Kingdom, when the Kingdom is established; and they are also the qualifications required now of all those who would be heirs of that coming Kingdom. It will be observed that the qualifications mentioned are not those of faith (for faith in the gospel of the Kingdom, which includes faith in Christ the King and Redeemer, is implied in the desire to be in the Kingdom in any capacity); but the qualifications mentioned here are those of character. The Scriptures elsewhere make more specific mention of the necessary faith, but always implying a character consistent with the faith. (Acts 16:31; John 3:16,36.) The prophet does not ignore faith, but points to that character which is the legitimate consequence of a true faith exercised unto godliness. A faith which does not produce character is null and void. (Jas. 2:17.) Therefore it is plain that both the heirs and the subjects of the Kingdom of God must have that character which is both begotten and developed by the faith of the gospel; for if the faith of the gospel be held in unrighteousness there is no place in the Kingdom for any such. (Rom. 1:18.) Let us consider the character-requirements here mentioned.
"Clean hands." – That means clean actions, clean conduct. If bad habits of any kind have been cultivated, they must be promptly forsaken. The hands must not be defiled with the holding of bribes, nor with the gain of oppression, and every evil thing must be resolutely put away. (Isa. 33:15.) It is in vain that any profess loyalty to God and to his anointed King and Kingdom while they continue in a sinful course of action. Loyalty to the Kingdom signifies determined opposition to sin in all its forms, and a firm resistance of it.
"A pure heart." – That signifies purity of will, intention or purpose, which, like the needle to the pole, always turns toward righteousness. Though some sudden or strong temptation may for an instant, through the weakness of the flesh, draw it to the right or to the left, yet quickly it recovers its normal position which is true to righteousness and truth. A pure heart loves righteousness and truth, and hates iniquity. It loves purity, and despises all that is impure and unholy. It loves cleanliness of person, of clothing, of language and of habits. It delights only in the society of the pure, and shuns all others, knowing that "evil communications corrupt good manners."
"Who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity." Pride is an abomination to the Lord and to all those who partake of his spirit. It is a weed which, if once permitted to take root in the heart, will soon crowd out every grace. The Psalmist says, "I hate vain thoughts;" and such should be our sentiments. The grace of [R1744 : page 389] humility, meekness, is one of the most beautiful that can adorn the character. It takes a sober estimate of personal qualifications, is not puffed up, does not behave unbecomingly, and seeks to exercise its talents, not for pride and vain glory, but for the joy of doing good. It is modest, candid and sincere, both in consideration of its own qualifications and those of others. What comfort and pleasure are found in the society of those possessed of such a spirit.
"Nor sworn deceitfully." – Those who make a solemn covenant with the Lord, and who thereafter wilfully despise or ignore it, have sworn deceitfully; and surely no such disloyal subjects can be admitted either to citizenship or heirship in the Kingdom of God. But those who, in this age, have made a solemn covenant with God and who are true to their covenant, even unto death, they shall ascend into the holy place, the temple of God – they shall be the heirs of the Kingdom, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ; while all such, in the age to come, shall be recognized and privileged citizens of the Kingdom. These shall receive the blessings of the Lord promised in his Word. After first receiving the imputed righteousness of Christ through faith, they may, under divine grace, be made perfect in righteousness and worthy of eternal life.
This is the generation of them that seek the face of the God of Jacob. Men do not obtain these blessings without seeking them, nor without seeking them in God's appointed way – through Christ, by humble reliance upon his finished work of redemption, and by the full consecration of all their ransomed powers of mind and body to his holy will, which is only our reasonable service.
Beloved, ye who are called by his grace to stand in his holy place, let us ponder these things. Are our hands clean and our hearts pure? are we humble and faithful to our covenant? Let us see that we meet these conditions, and let us run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus.
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." – 1 Pet. 4:12,13.
But why is it that fiery trials must come to us? Is there no way of gaining the crown without these crosses? No, there is not; for if ye receive not the discipline of trial whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? Trials of faith and patience and love and endurance are as necessary to our development and our fitting for the high position to which we are called, as are the instructions of the divine Word and the special manifestations of divine grace. The blessed sunshine and shower have their benign influence, but none the less the cloud and the storm; but we need ever to bear in mind that the cloud has its silver lining, and that God is in the whirlwind and in the storm.
Like water upon the parched earth, and like sunshine to vegetation after winter snows, so the message of divine truth comes to us and with it the blessed realization of divine favor. In the joy of our new-found treasure we are apt to think at first that we have actually entered the Beulah land of joy and peace where sorrow and trial can never more come to us. But no; there are sorrows ahead and trials beyond, and you will need all the strength which the truth can give and all the blessed influences that divine grace can impart to enable you to endure faithfully to the end.
But do not stop to worry about the trials until they come; only remember the Apostle's words – "Think it not strange," when they do [R1744 : page 390] come. They come to prove you and to strengthen your character and to cause the principles of truth and righteousness to take deep root in your heart. They come like fiery darts from our great enemy, Satan, whose wrath against the children of light is permitted to manifest itself in various ways; but his darts cannot injure those who securely buckle on the divinely provided armor of truth and righteousness. "Wherefore," says the Apostle, "take unto you the whole armor of God,...above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." – Eph. 6:13-17.
The Christian life is thus set forth as a warfare – a warfare, "not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Eph. 6:12.) In other words, as Christians imbued with the spirit of our Master, we find the principles of truth and righteousness which we have espoused to be at variance with the whole present order of things, which is to a very large extent under the control of "the prince of this world" – Satan. And when sin is thus so inwrought throughout the whole social fabric of the present age; and not only so, but when we also find the flesh, our own old nature, in harmony with it, we see into what close quarters we must come with the enemy, and what a hand to hand and life-long struggle it must needs be. Yet our weapons are not carnal, but spiritual, and the Apostle says they are mighty for the pulling down of the strongholds of error and iniquity. – 2 Cor. 10:4,5.
When, therefore, the fiery trials and darts from the enemy come upon you, be ready as an armed soldier of the cross to meet and withstand them. If you run away from them, you are a coward, and not worthy to be called a soldier.
"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong." – 2 Cor. 12:7-10.
And Paul appreciated the honor of such intimate fellowship of service with the Lord, and manifested his appreciation by untiring zeal and enthusiasm. But even in this the Lord recognized a personal danger to his beloved and faithful Apostle – a danger of pride and self-exaltation, which, if it should develop, would soon unfit him for further service and rob him of his future reward. So the thorn in the flesh was permitted to come. It came, not from the hand of the Lord, though by his permission; but, as the Apostle affirms, it was "the messenger of Satan to buffet" him. [R1744 : page 391]
A thorn in the flesh is always a painful thing; and whatever this may have been, it was something severely trying to Paul. At first he thought only of the pain and annoyance it caused him, and of its hindrance to him in the Lord's work: it was a messenger of Satan that he was anxious to get rid of. Three times he besought the Lord for its removal. But no, it had come to stay, and the Lord mercifully made him to realize that though it was very undesirable to the flesh, it was nevertheless profitable to him spiritually; for otherwise he might become exalted overmuch.
The implication of weakness the Apostle humbly accepted. He did not resent it and begin to boast of his strength and to reproach the Lord for not exerting his power for its removal; but, on the contrary, with grace and gladness he accepted the Lord's judgment of his heart, and his estimate of his strength, and appreciated the love that thus cared for him personally, while through him he was ministering to the whole Church. Yes, praise the Lord! he chooses his own instruments, and whets and grinds and polishes them for the more effectual service, and wields them with force and power in the service of his people; but in all the painful and laborious service he has special care also for the willing and faithful instrument. He will not suffer it to be tried beyond that which it is able to endure; nor will he suffer it to be exalted without some counterbalancing thorn in the flesh to preserve its equilibrium. [R1745 : page 391]
The answer to the Apostle's prayer, although not in accordance with his request, was a blessed consolation – "My grace [my favor] is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect [made manifest] in [your] weakness."
This is also the blessed consolation of every truly submissive heart. How many of the Lord's people are tempest-tossed and sorely tried in these days; and doubtless many of them have earnestly besought the Lord to remove this or that trial or affliction; but the piercing thorn still remains for their discipline and perfecting. Let all such, like Paul, give ear to the Master's voice – "My favor is sufficient for thee." What if other friends forsake thee, and hosts of foes seek to overwhelm thee, if thou hast my favor, my love: is not that sufficient? And what though the flesh be weak and the heart sometimes faint, my strength shall supply your lack; and while you walk in the way of my appointment, your weakness shall only the more manifest the power of God working in and through you.
What sincere child of God has not realized, in times of greatest need and felt weakness, the power of God on his behalf supplementing his weakness with strength from above? And when the task was accomplished to which the Lord had called him and for which he felt so incompetent of himself, has he not realized in the outcome the wonder-working power of God?
In view of such a gracious provision to supplement his weakness with divine strength, the faithful Apostle meekly responded, "Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." Having put forth all his own energies and faithfully used his own ability to its fullest extent as a wise steward, it was his joy to recognize the hand of the Lord working with him – by miracles and signs and with demonstrations of the spirit and of power. (Heb. 2:4; Acts 19:11; 1 Cor. 2:4.) These demonstrations of divine power supplementing Paul's faithful use of his natural abilities were the Lord's endorsement of all he did – the manifestations of divine approval both to himself and to others, and consequently cause for great rejoicing.
With the Apostle it is also the privilege of all God's children to have their weakness supplemented by divine grace, while they meekly and faithfully use their talents in the Lord's service. And so all the faithful may rejoice in tribulations and infirmities, while God overrules the former and supplements the latter to his praise.
But to rejoice in tribulations, to endure meekly and patiently a sore thorn in the flesh, and even to glory in such personal infirmities as make the power of Christ the more manifest, is not possible except to those whose hearts are in fullest accord with the loving purposes of God. If the heart be influenced by pride or ambition or love of fame or wealth or any worldly ambition, joy in tribulation is impossible. But if the old ambitions and desires of the flesh are kept under, and faith, love, hope and zeal are all alive and active, we shall have the consciousness of the divine favor, and then we can rejoice in every experience.
"The Lord is my Shepherd: I shall not want." – Psa. 23:1.
But it is only when the individual can say in his heart, The Lord is my Shepherd, that this blessed ministry of the good Shepherd can be realized. It is when we become his sheep that we learn the value of the Shepherd's care; and the man who has had experience under the care of the good Shepherd can truly say with the Psalmist, "I shall not want." He shall not want for the temporal necessities of the present life – "Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure." (Isa. 33:16; Matt. 6:33,34.) He shall not want for light and be left to walk in the darkness of this world, but unto him shall be given the light of life. (John 8:12.) He shall not want the necessary care and discipline to fit him for the future life; "for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." (Heb. 12:6.) He shall not lack the consolations of divine grace in times of trial and affliction; for it is written, "My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. 12:9.) He shall not want for fellowship and sympathy; for the Lord himself hath said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Heb. 13:5); and again, "Lo, I am with you alway." – Matt. 28:20.
IT is with great pleasure, deep gratitude and profound recognition of the great Master's providential leadings, that we summarize and lay before our readers the results of their labors and ours with and under the great Chief Reaper in the present harvest work, for the past year – from Dec. 1, 1893 to Dec. 1, 1894.
We congratulate our readers that although the year has been marked by Satan's fiercest assaults upon the Lord's work and upon us of the WATCH TOWER as his and your representatives in the supervision of that work, – and notwithstanding, too, the fact that the year has been one of unprecedented pinch in financial affairs, nevertheless it has been the most successful year of the Tract Society's experience in the amount of money received and expended, and in the tract pages circulated, as you will see from the reports of the Secretary and Treasurer subjoined. True, the work is small: – very small is the sum at our disposal for the spread of the Truth compared with the immense sums donated to other tract societies for the promulgation of what we believe to be chiefly error. The Lord in his wisdom has seen fit to limit the means at our disposal, and no doubt for good reasons; – quite probably to draw out to greater activity and self-denial each one who has the cause at heart.
"It is required of a steward that he be found faithful." We at the WATCH TOWER office are in several respects stewards of the Lord's goods, "stewards of the manifold grace of God," and it is his approval which we crave. We trust that as he reviews the efforts and results of the year – your efforts and ours – that he can approve both you and us, saying, "Well done, good, faithful servants." But we of the TOWER office are not only the Lord's stewards, of goods both temporal and spiritual, but we are also your stewards, – stewards of those monies which you have contributed to the Tract Fund – and as your stewards this report is due to you, and submitted accordingly.
If we cannot congratulate you that the sum is a large one, we can congratulate you that it has accomplished more than double as much as the same amount generally accomplishes in the hands of other Tract Societies, where [R1745 : page 393] salaries and office rent consume a large proportion of the receipts. Twenty-three millions of pages of tracts is a good showing; and if the DAWN pages circulated were added, it would represent over thirty millions of pages more. Thank God for the privilege of having a share in this, his work of gathering together his elect unto him, preparatory to the setting up of his Kingdom in power and great glory. Compare Psa. 50:4,5; Matt. 13:30, and Matt. 24:31.
The colporteur work has been considerably interfered with by reason of the financial depression. Tens of thousands of people who have the time to read, and whose minds are more than ever open to the message of God's Kingdom coming, have been obliged by necessity to refuse to purchase DAWNS, and have been supplied with free tracts instead. This in turn has worked unfavorably to the colporteurs, many of whom have been obliged to receive credits and some assistance from the Tract Fund while others have been forced to quit the work entirely until times improve, which we expect will not be before next Spring. These dear co-laborers have many trials and discouragements by the way, and need our prayers. Let all who feel an interest in the cause remember in their devotions these whose labor of love has been God's instrumentality for carrying the good tidings of great joy to so many of you, and this branch of the service, which has been specially attacked by the Adversary during the year just closed.
Impressed with the fact that a number of school teachers, ministers and business men who had tried the colporteur work had failed to make it a success, we have devised a new method of work specially suitable for them. A few are already using it with success, and we hope that it will enable many to engage in the harvest work in a self-supporting way during the coming year. The new method is not at all adapted to the use of the average colporteur, who succeeds best with the usual methods: indeed the new method is suited only to those who by the grace of God can respond that they possess the eight qualifications for public ministry, [R1746 : page 393] mentioned in our issue of Sept. 1; and it is consequently explained only to such as can and do thus respond.
The "New Branch of Service," started some time ago, but mentioned and enlarged recently, – viz., the arrangement for the holding of meetings, by traveling representatives of the Tract Society – is proving spiritually profitable to the Church, as indicated by letters received from various quarters, which tell of spiritual good derived, and truth more clearly discerned.
This work is carried on economically, too, that the means supplied by the Lord may reach as far and accomplish as much as possible. A reference to the Treasurer's report will show that only $403.88 has been expended in this way; and this was nearly all spent during the past three months. Brother M. L. McPhail only has been giving all of his time to this work, and he alone has all of his expenses paid out of the Tract Society's fund, the other laborers in this branch of the service, Brothers Antoszewski, Austin, Bell, Blundin, Bohnet, Draper, Merrill, Murphy, Owen, Page, Ransom, Richards, Thorn, Webb, Weber, Weimar, West, Williams, Wise and Witter, being traveling salesmen, colporteurs or business men whose expenses are met by their business or otherwise and who delight to give an evening or a Sunday, as they can arrange it, in serving the Lord's flock – pointing to the green pastures and the still waters and feeding and rejoicing with the "sheep."
During the past five months Brother McPhail has visited groups of WATCH TOWER readers in fifty-three cities, and has held about one hundred and fifteen meetings in the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Delaware, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. The other brethren, all together, have probably held as many more meetings – some in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Canada, Illinois, Texas, California, Oregon and Florida. Several others expect to engage in this branch of the work early next year. This branch of the service also deserves our sympathies, co-operation and prayers. The blessings attending these meetings will depend largely upon the sympathy and cooperation of those visited; and the Lord will not be unmindful of your labor of love and [R1746 : page 394] service in such co-operation, in however humble the capacity; and he will reward with grace now and with glory hereafter. All who desire such meetings, and who would co-operate in making them a blessing to themselves and others, are invited to let us know of their desires. And any who make use of the "Good Hopes" blanks which accompany this issue may, if they so prefer, designate what proportion of their donations they wish to have applied to the forwarding of this special branch of the service.
In view of the activity of our great Adversary, and his endeavor to counterfeit not only the light of truth, but also the ministers of the light, it is well that the Lord's people should be on guard against the agents of another gospel, which denies that our Lord bought them (2 Pet. 2:1) and claims that he was merely an example and teacher. No such error need be feared from any of the Brethren who bear our Letter of Introduction and Commendation.
Concerning the spiritual condition of the Church in general, we have exceptionally good opportunities for judging, being in communication with many of the household of faith the world over; yet only the Lord can read the hearts; – "the Lord knoweth them that are his." However, we are glad to be able to report that while the love of many waxes cold, we have many cheering evidences that the spiritual warmth of others is constantly increasing; and although Satan is permitted to sift out some, as we were forewarned, others are by the same trial only the more firmly rooted and grounded and built up in the most holy faith. And for every one who leaves the ransom and the light of present truth, another, more earnest and zealous, comes forward – reminding us of our Lord's words, "Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." – Rev. 3:11.
Not only do the letters received, and the reports from the traveling brethren and the colporteurs, testify to much earnestness and love for the truth, but the Treasurer's Report, which follows, testifies to the same in no uncertain tones; for where the poor give their hard-earned dollars their hearts must be also – especially in the recent close times. While the sum contributed would be small indeed for wealthy people to spend in forwarding the grandest tidings that ever reached the ears of man, yet we know that the donations of some have not been without considerable self-denial; for among our readers are not many great or rich in this world's greatness and riches.
During the year from Dec. 1, '93 to Dec. 1, '94 there have been circulated, free, the following:
Copies OLD THEOLOGY TRACTS, 1,159,091 " ZION'S WATCH TOWER, 125,892
RECEIPTS: From "Good Hopes,".......................$5,664.56 " other sources,...................... 4,076.00 --------- Total,...................................$9,740.56 ========= EXPENDITURES: For Balance due from last year,..........$ 478.60 " Tracts, TOWERS, etc., sent out free,. 5,738.97 " Postage, freight, wrappers, etc., for same,...................... 658.55 " Labor, mailing same,................. 572.00 " Foreign translations, plates, etc., Tracts and DAWNS,.............. 1,025.26 Assistance to colporteurs, DAWNS to the poor, etc.,................... 553.30 Interest on colporteurs indebtedness to T.P. Co.,......................... 310.00 Expenses of traveling Evangelists,....... 403.88 --------- Total,...................................$9,740.56
Thus, by the grace of God, we start upon the new year free from all debts and hopeful of great privileges and opportunities just before us. Let us each do with our might what our Master has placed within our reach; and let us do it promptly and zealously, remembering that nearer and nearer comes the night when no man can work. – John 9:4.
It is but our duty to mention that the foregoing statement takes no account of some five thousand dollars of credits extended to colporteurs [R1746 : page 395] by the Tower Pub. Co., for which our Tract Society is pledged; – and the most of which it is to be hoped the colporteurs will soon be able to settle for themselves. Those who can do so should have their accounts paid ahead or else send the money with their orders, as our Society is obliged to pay interest on these balances. In this connection it is proper to mention that the items of rent, light, heat and clerical work are not omitted by accident from our account of expenditures. These are donated by the Tower Publishing Co.
While the colporteur work for the circulation of MILLENNIAL DAWN is under the supervision and patronage of this Society, it is self-supporting to a very large degree; – the only liabilities being the guarantee of their accounts above mentioned and in the preparation of foreign translations. An item on this last account appears in the Treasurer's report, above.
IV. QUAR., LESSON XII., DEC. 23, ISA. 9:2-7.
Verse 2. "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light." The reference here is to the world of mankind, all of whom will at that time recognize the presence of the Lord and his Kingdom established; for it is written that "every eye shall see him." (Rev. 1:7.) The world that has walked in the darkness of ignorance and superstition for six thousand years will then begin to see the glorious light of truth and righteousness, and in the earthly phase of the Kingdom they will see the grand illustrations and rewards of righteousness.
"They that dwell in the land of the shadow of death [i.e., fleshly Israel under the condemnation of their law covenant*], a light shineth brightly over them." Yes, the light will shine with special brilliancy upon fleshly Israel: then their blindness will be turned away and the favors of the new dispensation will again be – "to the Jew first, and also [afterward] to the Gentile;" and through the secondary instrumentality of the fleshly seed of Abraham shall all the nations of the world be blessed. The ancient worthies of that nation will be the visible rulers of the world, and their new work will begin at Jerusalem, bringing order out of confusion, peace out of discord and making Jerusalem a praise in the whole world. It was with reference to this that the Prophet wrote again, saying, "Arise, give light, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is shining forth [R1747 : page 395] over thee. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and a gross darkness the people; but over thee the Lord will shine forth, and his glory will be seen over thee. And nations shall walk by thy light, and kings by thy brightness of thy shining....And the sons of the stranger shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee; for in my wrath did I smite thee, but in my favor have I had mercy on thee." – Isa. 60:1-3,10.
Verse 3. "Thou hast multiplied the nation [Israel – a reference to their gathering together again as a nation after the long dispersion of nearly two thousand years as fugitives among all the nations; – and also to their reinforcement by the resurrection of their ancient worthies and heroes], made great their joy: they rejoice before thee as with the joy in harvest, as men are glad when they divide the spoil." Such indeed will be the joy of Israel when the blessings of their restoration to divine favor begin to be realized.
Verses 4,5. "For the yoke of their burden, and the staff on their shoulder, the rod of their oppressor [the heavy burdens of oppression imposed upon them and the persecutions inflicted by their Gentile enemies during the long period of their blindness and exile], hast thou broken, as on the day of Midian" – when a great victory was won for them by Gideon's small band of 300 under the Lord's direction, without bloodshed and without strife. (Judges 7:1-23.) Even so shall it be when the Lord shall again fight for Israel: it will not be by their own power that the victory of the final battle will be secured. – See Ezek. 38:11,15-23. Also compare verse 4 with Ezek. 39:8-15. [R1747 : page 396]
Verse 6. Why is all this return of divine favor to Israel? is it because of worthiness in them? Surely not; for to this day they are a stiff-necked people, and their blindness and hardness of heart continue although we are within only a score of years of the time when all these things shall be fulfilled. The reason for it is that the Lord hath remembered his covenant with their fathers (Lev. 26:42,45; Jer. 31:34), and that in fulfilment of that covenant a child has been born unto them who was destined to be a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Israel; and now (at the time indicated in the prophecy) "the government is placed upon his shoulders." Dimly this light of the world shone upon Israel at the first advent of Messiah; but when "the light shined in the darkness, the darkness comprehended it not." "He came unto his own, and his own received him not." It is only at the second advent that they recognize him as the promised seed of Abraham and their long-looked-for Messiah. They shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for him. – Zech. 12:10.
"And his name is called Wonderful [What a wonder indeed to Israel specially, that the despised Nazarene, the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, whom they hated and crucified and reviled, even to this day, was indeed their Messiah, and they knew him not. What a wonder, too, to them specially, will be the forgiving love that so meekly bore their reproaches and sacrificed even unto death to redeem them from the curse of the law, and that now returns to restore and bless them! Wonderful, wonderful love, wonderful condescension and grace, and wonderful exaltation and glory and power!], Counsellor [not counsellor of the mighty God, as some translators have rendered it; for Paul significantly inquires concerning Jehovah, "Who hath been his counsellor?" (Rom. 11:34.) He needed no counsellor, but poor fallen humanity does need such a wise counsellor, and he will teach them and they shall walk in his ways. – Isa. 2:3], The Mighty God ["a Savior and a great one" – Isa. 19:20], The Everlasting Father [the new life-giver to our dead race – the second Adam – 1 Cor. 15:45], The Prince of Peace [whose glorious reign shall be one of righteousness, bringing with it all the blessed fruits of righteousness – peace and joy and satisfaction and everlasting rest]."
Verse 7. His dominion shall increase until all things are subdued under him. It shall extend, not only to the ends of the earth, but eventually all things in heaven and in earth are to be united under his headship as the representative of Jehovah, who would have all men honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. – Psa. 72:7; Eph. 1:10; John 5:23.
"The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." Such is Jehovah's purpose, and thus he declares that it shall be accomplished; and our hearts leap for joy as we realize, not only the glorious import of this prophecy, but also the fact that the time is at hand, and that a score of years future will see the Kingdom established and its blessings beginning to be experienced.
The common interpretation of this prophecy regards it as fulfilled upon Israel at the first advent, and the Kingdom of God as established then in the Gospel Church; and the great increase in the numbers and power of the nominal Church of all denominations, Papal and Protestant, as the predicted increase of Christ's government. – Verse 7.
Such a fulfilment would not be worthy of the record. Christ does not reign in Christendom: its general character is antichristian. The only sense in which Christ's kingdom was begun at the first advent was in its embryo condition; and this, the only true Kingdom of Christ in the world, has, like the Lord, been unrecognized in the world, except, like him, to be despised and forsaken and to suffer violence. Its numbers have always been small and its circumstances humble; for not many rich and great, etc., are called. – 1 Cor. 1:26-29; Jas. 2:5.
Nor did the nation of Israel at the first advent see or comprehend the light of Christ, nor did he at that time break their yoke or deliver them from the rod of their oppressor; for in consequence of their failure to recognize the light when it began to shine upon them, they were blinded, the rod of the oppressor came upon them with increased force and they have never yet been relieved, nor will they be until their Messiah is recognized as having come again, a second time; this time without a sin-offering unto salvation. – Heb. 9:28.
IV. QUAR., LESSON XIII., DEC. 30.
As we endeavor to review the life of Jesus how blessed is this assurance of the Apostle, that he is, and ever shall be, the same unchangeable friend and lover of humanity! The review of his life and teaching should be our constant meditation. He was the living example of God's law of Love; and in him all the graces of the spirit focused.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Of the books I brought with me to Denmark, there are now none left, and several Christian friends are anxiously waiting with me for the new lot to arrive. The lady class leader of a large Methodist church, to whom I sold a copy of DAWN soon after coming here, has read a good part of it and has liked it so much that she is recommending it to S.S. teachers and pupils, and has sold several copies. People are not so prejudiced against it here, as some seemed to be in the United States.
This is a very lively place, and everybody looks happy and contented. There are many churches. The state church is Lutheran, a dead, formal thing, which, as intelligence increases, is losing more and more of its influence over the people.
There has been much talk lately among the dissenters, Baptists, Methodists and others, concerning a church union. A Mr. Edwards of England, one of the members of the S.S. committee in London, has been here several times, speaking in various churches upon the subject of joining all the Sunday Schools into one large body and using the "International S.S. Lessons."
I have attended three of these meetings, the last one being held in the Baptist church; and for the first time here ministers of various denominations were seen and heard from the same platform. They seemed united to work their own scheme of "saving the whole world" before the Lord's Kingdom is set up. Oh, how blind the guides! and the people are in gross darkness concerning the Lord's real, glorious plan. May his Kingdom soon come!
I would like very much to have a companion in the canvass, and am in hopes soon to get a young man, a clerk in a large book store, who is reading the DAWNS and likes them, to start out with me in the harvest work. I have not regretted that I left America, but am well pleased here in every way. I delight in doing some good work for the Lord, in finding and sealing his dear people, and feeding the truth-hungry with good meat from his table. Truly it is a glorious work, when rightly understood and appreciated, and I thank the dear Lord for the opportunity of being used in it.
I remain, Your brother in Christ,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I wish to ask a few questions in regard to some of the teachings in the WATCH TOWER and the Tracts. Should not we who come out of Babylon have some organization? [See TOWER, Sept. '93.] What is the form of worship followed in your Allegheny Church?
We have started a Bible class at our house. We meet with a few interested neighbors every Thursday evening. Any suggestions as to what plan would be most conducive to our spiritual growth will be gladly considered. I do not want to take much of your valuable time. If the questions within are of enough general interest to be treated in the TOWER, I shall not expect a personal answer to this letter.
I am in sympathy with the experiment of the TOWER Society in sending out teachers. May God be with the movement. With Christian love from Sister Heston and myself, I am yours in his name,
DEAR MR. RUSSELL: – You will be glad to know that we are continuing our weekly class at Mr. Sheward's house. We are now two-thirds through VOL. II. of the DAWN. It took us a whole year to master VOL. I., there being so many points that required close and careful thought; but I think we were amply repaid for the course we adopted....
Believe me, Yours sincerely,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I enclose $1.00 for which I would like you to send me copies of the October number of Z.W.T., which I will take great pleasure in circulating among my Methodist acquaintances – some ministers, who dare not express their sentiments for fear of the bishops. The "New Gospel" expressed in Bishop Foster's sermon, however, may loosen their bonds somewhat, and they may follow their leader, even though they have heretofore resisted the plain truth. The separating continues. "Forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country," is being fulfilled in Babylon. The "clouds of heaven" are growing thicker, and must soon burst into the final great storm.
Yours in the patient waiting for the Kingdom,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I noticed in a recent TOWER the article on "The New Branch of the Work," but had not thought of myself as having a clear enough knowledge of divine truth, or as being otherwise competent to fulfil the requirements. However, I find that in some attempts to help others the Spirit of truth has greatly assisted me in bringing to my remembrance many truths of Scripture which I was not aware I had in my storehouse of memory. I have also found that all such efforts to help others have always been of great benefit to myself; and now, after prayer and consultation with the Lord, I feel that perhaps I can be used by Him to some extent at least in strengthening some of the "babes in Christ," by endeavoring to help them to a clearer understanding of God's wonderful plan. It is only by the grace of God that I can say that the eight qualifications are applicable to me; but by his grace I hope to be able to meet these requirements, and so am glad to offer all the time at present at my disposal.
A recent Sunday I spend very pleasantly and profitably with a brother and his wife whom it was my privilege to interest in the truth. We spent the afternoon with relatives who have greatly opposed them in the new light, and with whom he has had long controversies, which, he now sees, have only hindered them instead of assisting them as he was anxious to do. After considering the matter, I thought best to avoid all controversy, and seek to talk only on subjects on which we could agree, not missing opportunities to show forth the love of Christ and to impress them with the fact that we had been with Him. The result was a very pleasant afternoon, and a cordial invitation to come again.
Your brother in Christ,
DEAR BROTHER: – Christian love and greetings from me and mine to you and yours. The "transforming" influence of the "renewing of our minds" draws us nearer in love to all who are probationary members of the Church, as well as to Jesus and those with him who have been changed.
The work of preparing the Bride is wonderful, and the new plan of sending out Brethren to strengthen and help those who are striving seems very wise, though the risk is apparent. From a little experience of our own it seems timely. We have found that the lack of many is systematic Bible study.
As a confirmation which you did not mention [See TOWER, Aug. 1, "Is Death a Penalty or a Consequence?], as to Satan's power being exerted through various kinds of insect and other life, see Luke 10:17-20 (Diaglott). Verse 19 reads, "Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and on all that power which is of the enemy" – showing that those injurious creatures are counted part of his power.
In our reading my wife and I came across the best proof we have yet found that the "remnants" of the so-called "ten lost tribes" were really in Palestine. Paul, in his speech before Agrippa, says, "And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God to our fathers; unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come." – Acts 26:6.
Yours in the love of Christ,
GENTLEMEN: – I have recently received two or three tracts from you, one of which, entitled "Do You Know," is of a character to command my attention and enlist my confidence. Your liberal attitude and anti-sectarian spirit, with your advanced Scriptural declarations, commend your publications sufficiently to induce me to seek a more intimate acquaintance with your Society and from what you assert in relation to the book, MILLENNIAL DAWN, I am induced to send for it; and, as the price is not given, I enclose one dollar, and you can send me anything that you consider "meat in due season."
I am poor in spirit and purse, but rich in faith – looking for the coming of Jesus Christ, the King of kings, and loving his appearing. I belong to no sectarian organization: if a member of the Church, it is the one that fled into the wilderness from the face of the serpent, the only door to which is Christ.
If your Society publishes a serial, send me a number. I will endeavor to help sustain every means of grace that seems to accord with Bible truth and "the faith once delivered to the saints." C. D. M__________.
|Special Items: A New Leaf, etc||2|
|View from the Tower||3|
|Echoes from the Parliament of Religions||8|
|The Book of Genesis (I.)||9|
|Bible Study: The First Adam||12|
|" " Adam's Sin and God's Grace||13|
|Out of Darkness into His Marvelous Light (Letters)||15|
|He Calleth for Thee (Poem)||16|
|Special Items: Good Shepherd Calendars, etc||18|
|Are there Few that be Saved?||19|
|The Future – Social and Religious||22|
|A Savior and a Great One (Poem)||25|
|Echoes from the Parliament of Religions||25|
|Bible Study: The Murder of Abel||28|
|" " God's Covenant with Noah||29|
|" " Beginning of the Hebrew Nation||30|
|Encouraging Words from Faithful Workers (Letters)||31|
|Special Items: Senator Peffer's Foreview, etc||34|
|"Hallelujah! What a Savior!"||35|
|The Book of Genesis (II.)||43|
|Bible Study: God's Covenant with Abraham||44|
|" " God's Judgment on Sodom||45|
|Keep Orders Separate||48|
|Special Items: The European Outlook, etc||50|
|Keep Your Eyes Open||51|
|A Serious Question||56|
|Faithful over Few (Poem)||57|
|The Work for a Converted Will||57|
|The Book of Genesis (III.)||59|
|Bible Study: Trial of Abraham's Faith||61|
|" " Selling the Birthright||62|
|Encouraging Words from Faithful Workers (Letters)||64|
|Special Items: The Pope and the Bible, etc||66|
|The Annual Memorial Supper||67|
|The Unjust Steward||69|
|Applying Truth to One's Self||70|
|Personal Liberty, – Its Responsibility||73|
|Bible Study: Jacob at Bethel||76|
|" " Wine a Mocker||77|
|" " The Resurrection of Christ||78|
|Out of Darkness into His Marvelous Light (Letters)||79|
|Special Items: Binding the Bundles Tighter, etc||82|
|Touched with the Feeling of our Infirmities||83|
|The Financial Strain World-wide||85|
|Behold the Bridegroom! (Poem)||88|
|Our Sufficiency is of God||89|
|Bible Study: Jacob's Prevailing Prayer||91|
|" " Envy and Discord||93|
|Encouraging Words from Faithful Workers (Letters)||94|
|Special Items: The Memorial Supper, etc||98|
|The Import of the Emblems||99|
|Bear Up the Feet||103|
|Lest Ye Enter into Temptation||104|
|The Work in England||105|
|Bible Study: Joseph Sold into Egypt||109|
|" " Joseph Ruler in Egypt||111|
|Encouraging Words from Faithful Workers (Letters)||112|
|Special Items: Watch with me One Hour! etc||114|
|Jonathan Edwards Much Blinded||123|
|Bible Study: Joseph Forgiving his Brethren||124|
|" " Joseph's Last Days||126|
|Out of Darkness into His Marvelous Light (Letters)||127|
|Special Items: Your Letter Received, etc||130|
|The Shepherd and the Sheep||131|
|Who hath Heard such a Thing?||134|
|Vessels unto Honor||137|
|The Memorial Celebrated||139|
|Fervent in Spirit, Serving the Lord||140|
|Bible Study: Israel in Egypt||141|
|" " The Childhood of Moses||142|
|" " Moses Sent as a Deliverer||143|
|Special Items: Letters of Congratulation, etc||146|
|Cast Not Away Your Confidence||147|
|The Retributive Character of Divine Law||149|
|In My Name (Poem)||154|
|The Test of Endurance||155|
|Buying and Selling||156|
|The Truth Shall Make you Free||158|
|Bible Study: The Passover Instituted||159|
|" " Passage of the Red Sea||160|
|" " The Woes of the Drunkard||160|
|" " Review||160|
|To bring the Greek Church under Vatican Control||160|
|Special Items: Earth's Labor Pangs, etc||162|
|Oh! Give Thanks unto the Lord; for He is Good||163|
|The Voice of the Church||175|
|Special Items: The Assassination of Carnot, etc||210|
|The Prize Set Before Us||211|
|With a Pure Heart Fervently||214|
|The Concision and the Circumcision||217|
|What Shall I Render?||218|
|In the Days of thy Youth||218|
|Pleasing in His Sight||220|
|Bible Study: The Birth of Jesus||221|
|" " Presentation in the Temple||223|
|" " Visit of the Wise Men||223|
|Special Items: Can it be Delayed until 1914? etc||226|
|View from the Tower: Labor Pangs of this Kosmos||227|
|Angels which Kept not their First Estate||231|
|Bible Study: The Flight into Egypt||239|
|" " The Youth of Jesus||240|
|Special Items: Go Labor On: Spend and be Spent||242|
|Is Death a Penalty or a Consequence?||243|
|The Prince of this World||249|
|Bible Study: The Baptism of Jesus||252|
|" " The Temptation of Jesus||253|
|Special Items: A Remarkable Narrative, etc||258|
|Bringing Back the King||259|
|Forgiveness versus Malice||267|
|Bible Study: The First Disciples of Jesus||269|
|" " Our Lord's first Miracle||270|
|" " Jesus Cleansing the Temple||271|
|" " Jesus and Nicodemus||272|
|Special Items: The "Do You Know?" Tract, etc||274|
|If Ye be Christ's||275|
|Once in Grace Always in Grace||277|
|Disintegration in the Church of Rome||282|
|Religion in America: A Japanese View||285|
|Upon this Generation||285|
|Another Branch of the Work||287|
|Bible Study: Jesus at Jacob's Well||288|
|Special Items: Why hast Thou Forsaken Me? etc||290|
|Think on These Things||291|
|These Many Years (Poem)||293|
|The Pope's Encyclical||293|
|Sunday Evening Revery||296|
|Introducing T.T. Society Representatives||297|
|Bible Study: Daniel and his Companions||302|
|" " Review||303|
|Encouraging Words from Faithful Workers (Letters)||303|
|Special Items: Church and State in Italy, etc||306|
|Bishop Foster's New Gospel, No. 1||307|
|Thou hast the Words of Eternal Life||309|
|Judgment – Its Use and Abuse||311|
|If Thou Knewest the Gift of God||313|
|Agree with thine Adversary Quickly||314|
|Alexander Campbell's Views||316|
|A New Branch of Service (Further Explained)||317|
|Bible Study: Our Lord's Visit to Nazareth||317|
|" " The Draught of Fishes||320|
|Special Items: Jewish Nationalization Movement, etc||322|
|Bishop Foster's New Gospel, No. 2||323|
|The Power of Faith||328|
|Letters of Introduction||330|
|Let Patience Have her Perfect Work||332|
|A Sabbath in Capernaum||334|
|A Paralytic Healed||334|
|Out of Darkness into His Marvelous Light (Letters)||335|
|Special Items: To New Subscribers, etc||338|
|The Divine Law – Universal and Eternal; the Law Given at Sinai; the Fourth Commandment; the Law of the New Covenant; Romans VII.; Objections of Seventh Day Adventists Answered||339|
|Bible Study: The Twelve Chosen||364|
|" " The Sermon on the Mount||365|
|" " Opposition to Christ||366|
|" " Christ's Testimony of John||368|
|Special Items: Change of Address, Spread of Ritualism||370|
|The Freedom of Christ's Bond-Servants||371|
|That I may Know Him (Poem)||376|
|The Progress of Religious Union||376|
|Bible Study: Christ Teaching by Parables||380|
|" " The Twelve Sent Forth||384|
|Items: Good Hopes for '95; Jerusalem to be Probed||386|
|Who Shall Ascend?||387|
|Think it Not Strange||389|
|A Thorn in the Flesh||390|
|The Lord is my Shepherd||392|
|Z.W.T. Tract Society's Annual Report||392|
|Bible Study: The Prince of Peace||395|
|" " Review||396|
|Encouraging Words from Faithful Workers (Letters)||397|