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He came to my desk with a quivering lip –
The lesson was done –
"Dear teacher, I want a new leaf," he said;
"I have spoiled this one."
In place of the leaf, so stained and blotted,
I gave him a new one, all unspotted,
And into his sad eyes smiled –
"Do better now, my child."
I went to the throne with a quivering soul –
The old year was done –
"Dear Father, hast thou a new leaf for me?
I have spoiled this one."
He took the old leaf, stained and blotted,
And gave me a new one, all unspotted,
And into my sad heart smiled –
"Do better now, my child."
Dear Readers, we wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year. Although the times are unfavorable, money scarce, etc., we trust that He that feedeth the fowl of the air and clotheth the grass of the field will provide for our necessities in food and clothing; – giving us the needful strength and opportunity to "provide things honest in the sight of all men." Let us "seek first [chiefly] the Kingdom," and make our calling and election sure, remembering that "All things work together for good to them that love God, that are called according to his purpose."
Although you know it, we will put you in remembrance of the fact that joy comes not with temporal abundance, but that godliness with contentment is great gain. The happy and the holy are more often the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom. Therefore let us pray: –
"Give me a calm, a thankful heart,
From every murmur free."
Let us not envy those more prosperous. Let us count and recount our own blessings, and then our hearts will overflow with thankfulness to the Giver of every good and every perfect gift.
"Truth, how precious is the treasure!page 2
Teach us, Lord, its worth to know.
Vain the hope and short the pleasure
Which from other sources flow."
We are rejoiced by the promptness of a large number of our readers this year, in the matter of renewals of WATCH TOWER subscriptions; – not only those responses which contain payment, but also those which ask a continuance on our List as the "Lord's Poor." To these last we would say, You are very welcome to the TOWER, dear friends. We rejoice that the Lord's bounty permits us as his stewards to continue to serve you and all with "meat in due season," from his storehouse.
To all we would say: Your kind words of appreciation are very refreshing and encouraging. Not that we labor for human approval, – for we seek only the "well done" of the heavenly Master, – but if in the path of duty we have the encouragement of fellow servants of the Royal Priesthood our joy is complete; for thus the coldness and opposition of others is much more than offset.
Aside from those letters which contain questions requiring answers, we hope that our eight thousand correspondents will accept this as a reply to their welcome letters – together with the change of date upon the address tag, which will indicate the renewal of their subscription. Your letters are attentively read and greatly appreciated by us; and the many requests for prayer are remembered by name at our family gathering around the throne of grace. "Brethren, pray for us."
|VOL. XV.||JANUARY 1, 1894.||NO. 1.|
EVEN the dullest minds are becoming convinced that there is something peculiar about our day; that the civilization of competition – a selfish civilization – has been tried in the balances of experience and is found wanting; that the more general the intelligence on that line, the sharper the competition between the classes whose selfish interests oppose each other; and that, as iron sharpens iron, so the selfish energy of each class sharpens the opposing class, and makes ready for the great "day of slaughter" – the utter wreck of the present social structure.
Worldly people not only see the great "battle" approaching, but they see that the skirmishing is already beginning all along the line – in every civilized country and on every imaginable issue. Their attitude is well described by our Lord's words; – "Men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth." – Luke 21:26.
The child of God sees the same things; but, being forewarned of them, he knows their import, their foreordained blessed results. Therefore he can lift up his head and rejoice, realizing that these dark clouds are the harbingers of coming Millennial blessings – that they mark the approach of the deliverance of God's saints, their exaltation to power as God's Kingdom, and the blessing of all the families of the earth through that Kingdom.
It may be claimed with truth that the world as a whole never was so rich as to-day; that the masses never lived so comfortably as to-day – never were so well housed, clothed and fed as to-day. But we answer: (1) The taste of luxury which the masses have had has only whetted their appetites for more; and (2) the things considered luxuries thirty years ago are esteemed necessities of life under the higher intelligence to which "the day of the Lord's preparation" has awakened the world.
When the world was generally asleep, the aristocratic class ruled it with comparative ease; for not only ignorance, but superstition also, assisted. If the people began to awaken religiously, and to question the power of pope and clergy, the aristocracy reproved them for their ignorance on religious subjects and awed them into submission to one or another party. If the people began to get awake on political questions, and to doubt the propriety of submitting themselves to the rule of some particular family – if they questioned the greater ability of some "royal" family to rule, or its right to perpetuate its control through unworthy members – aristocracy, always fearing some abridgment of its "vested rights," has upheld even insane royalty, lest, if the principle were overthrown, the people should get awake, and aristocracy should suffer directly or indirectly.
Hence, royalty and aristocracy appealed to pope and clergy – expecting from them the favor, co-operation and support which they received: the ecclesiastics assured the people that their kings and emperors ruled them by divine appointment, and that to oppose their rule would be to fight against God. [R1605 : page 4]
But now all this is changed: the people are awake on every issue – political, religious and financial – and are challenging everything and everybody; and financial, political and religious rulers are willing to sacrifice each other for self-interest, and are kept busy guarding their own peculiar interests, often opposing each other to gain popular support.
Look at Papacy: note her attitude toward the French Republic – her praise of and friendship for republican principles. Who does not know that Papacy has been more insulted and opposed by France than by any other nation – by the present Republic, too? Who cannot see that the policy of Rome is to-day, as it always has been, hierarchical and monarchical, and opposed to the liberties of the people? Yet now Papacy extols the Republics of France and the United States to win the sympathies of the people and to hide the records of history. Her design is to draw to herself the opposing classes, deceiving both.
The German government has felt the influence of the pope's smiles and kind words for its enemy, France. The growth of socialism, too, bids it beware of overthrow at home, and in dire necessity the German government appeals to the Roman Catholic party for aid in legislation to checkmate the Socialist party. The price of the support is: the repeal of laws framed some years ago expelling Jesuits, a class of Romish intriguers and clerical politicians which has been expelled or restrained by nearly every civilized nation. And now it seems that Germany must take back the Jesuits to restrain the Socialist influence.
On the other hand, Italy, Mexico, Brazil and other strongly Roman Catholic nations are awaking to the fact that the Jesuits had drained their treasuries and were the real rulers and owners of everything, and now they are removing their yokes and confiscating their wealth to the use of the despoiled people.
It is only a question of time, place and expediency – this matter of Church and State fellowship. Each is for itself, and tolerates the other only for use. It is a selfish union, and not a benevolent one for the improvement of the people.
The union between money and politics is of a closer sort, because, if the rulers be not wealthy, they hope to be so soon. Vested rights [R1606 : page 4] must support government; for, without government vested rights would soon be divested. And governments must support vested rights for similar reasons. Indeed, there is great force in the argument that the poorest government is very much better than no government.
All can see as quite probable, that which the Bible declares will soon be; viz., that although wealth and religion will unite with the governments for their mutual protection, all will by and by fall together before the poor and discontented masses.
Already the power is in the hands of the masses in Europe; already they see that their condition is an almost hopeless one, so far as any rise above present conditions is concerned: the few have the power, the honor, the wealth, and the brains and education to hold on to these. They see no hope under present social regulations, and they want a change. Some hope for the change by moderate means; as, for instance, the Belgian general strike, which stagnated all business, to secure political privileges. The success of that strike has encouraged the masses of Austria-Hungary to hope for similar political privileges by a similar method; and such a strike is now threatened there.
Others seem to realize that in any mental struggle the educated and wealthy classes have the advantage; and that, in the end, only a revolution of force will succeed. These are as yet a small minority, but very active. In Spain, France, England, Germany and Austria, as well as in Russia, crazy anarchists fruitlessly dash themselves to pieces against the ramparts of society. Why do not the masses overturn the present social order and establish a new and more equitable one?
Because as yet they are only half awake, and do not realize their power; because they are yet held by the chains of reverence – true and superstitious; and because they lack competent leaders in whom they can have confidence. Reverse the order of the classes and their numbers – put the educated and wealthy ones [R1606 : page 5] in the place of the poor, and the poor of to-day in the place and power of the rich, and there would be a world-wide revolution within a week.
It will probably be some twelve years or so future; but sooner or later the masses will get thoroughly awake, the chains of reverence, true and false, will break, the fit leaders will arise, and the great revolution will be a fact.
In the United States the case differs considerably from what it is in Europe. Place the masses here upon the same footing with those in Europe, and there would be a revolution immediately; because the masses here are more intelligent – more awake. The restraining power here is a different one. Here, not only has prosperity been great, but opportunities to rise to competency or even wealth have been so general that selfishness has kept the masses in line, – in support of vested rights, etc., under the present social arrangement.
But the present financial depression shows how quickly the sweets of the present arrangement might become the bitter of a social revolution, if once the hopes and opportunities of accumulating wealth were taken out of the question.
The farmers of the West, who eagerly mortgaged their farms and promised a large interest for the favor, and who in some instances speculated with the money, are now many times angered almost to anarchism when the mortgages on their farms are foreclosed according to contract.
Miners, artisans and laborers are embittered in soul as they see wages drop and their hopes of owning little homes of their own vanish. They realize that somehow they must forever be dependent upon the favored few possessed of superior brains and more money, who, with machinery, can earn daily many times what their employees, who operate their machines, can earn. Love and the grace of God are either lacking or at least none too abundant in their hearts, and selfishness in them inquires, Cannot I get at least a larger share of the results – the increase? Must the law of supply and demand bring the teeming human race increasingly into competition with each other, and above all into competition with machinery? If so, the lot of the masses must grow harder and harder, and the blessings of inventive genius and mechanical skill, while at present employing the masses in their construction, will become a curse as soon as the world's demands have been supplied – which time is not a great way off.
No wonder that the poor masses fear the power of money, brains and machinery, and seek unitedly to strike against them. The organizations and strikes, which are now so general, are not so much attempts to grasp a larger share of the necessities and luxuries of life, as a fear of losing what they now enjoy and of being carried farther than ever from the shore of comfort and safety; – for they realize that the tide of prosperity which lifted them to their present level is already turning.
This is evidenced by the recent coal strike in England. Some years ago the miners, by a general strike, secured an advance of wages of 40 per cent; and the recent strike was against a reduction of 25 per cent of this.
The miners fought with desperation, realizing that defeated now would presently mean a still further reduction. The mining district was reduced to starvation, and many died of hunger rather than work for less pay now, and still less by and by. A London Press dispatch describes matters in few words, thus: –
"All the relief now being generously poured into Yorkshire and Lancashire will not prevent the famine there getting worse each week. Correspondents on the spot describe the condition of thousands in the West Riding as fireless, foodless, shoeless, naked, and the whole district as one seething mass of misery. The death rate has gone up to something dreadful. What a crushing blow this long suspension has dealt industries of every description can be guessed by the fact that the seven principal railways, which are coal carriers, show a diminution of receipts in the past seventeen weeks of $9,000,000."
It should be noticed, too, that the greatest unrest prevails where there is the greatest intelligence, and where there has been the greatest prosperity for the past thirty years. As the United States and Great Britain have been the most prosperous, and the peoples of these [R1606 : page 6] have the greatest general intelligence and freedom, so these have suffered most from financial depression, and in these strikes have been most frequent.
Every one is moved to pity at the thought that in these, the two most civilized and most wealthy nations, some should starve for the very necessities of life. Yet so it is. In London there have been several deaths reported from starvation, and official reports from Chicago state that 1119 persons recently slept upon the stone floors of the public buildings, being without better provision. The same state of want prevails elsewhere, but to a less extent. Chicago got the most of this class by reason of the prosperity enjoyed by that city during the Columbian Exposition. So the United States as a whole suffers most just now, and has the greatest number of unemployed, because until recently it has been so prosperous that millions came from less favored lands and are now stranded here.
We have mentioned one principal cause of the present and coming world-wide trouble to be, the competition of human and mechanical skill, resulting in the oversupply of the human element – hence the nonemployment of many and the reduced wages of the remainder; and we have seen that although temporary relief will soon come, and prosperity soon again prevail on a lower level, yet, the conditions remaining the same, the difficulty will become greater and greater and another spasm of depression will come which will bring wages to a yet lower level, and so on. This is, so to speak, the upper millstone.
But we might mention another important factor in this depression; viz., money. Gold and silver have been the money of the civilized from the days of Abraham (Gen. 23:16) until recently. Now gold is the only standard, silver being used as a subsidiary coin for fractional change only.
While other men were using their brains, and knowledge in general was on the increase, the wealthy men, "financiers," used theirs also, and of course in their own interest. They reasoned, truly, that the more abundant the wheat or any other commodity the cheaper it is – the less valuable – and so with money: the more there is of it the less valuable it is – the less of labor and other things each dollar will purchase. They saw that if silver should be demonetized and gold made the only standard of money value, every gold dollar would gradually become worth two, because money would then be only half as plentiful: for twice as many people would struggle for it. This scheme of the European money-lenders was forced upon the nations of Europe, because all are borrowers and were obliged to comply and make their bonds payable, with interest, in gold. The influence of this extended to the United States and compelled a similar policy here, to the injury of all except those who have money at interest.
The shrinkage of the value of labor and the produce of labor of every sort one half, to the gold standard, is making it twice as difficult to pay off mortgages and other debts previously contracted. The farm and the labor on it shrink in value, but the mortgage does not. It increases in weight; for under the changed conditions the interest is more than twice as burdensome as when contracted. This is the lower millstone.
"The law of supply and demand" is bringing these two millstones very close together, and the masses who must pass between them [R1607 : page 6] in competition are feeling the pressure severely, and will feel it yet more.
No; the majority who are favored either by fortune or skill are so busy doing for themselves – "making money" – diverting as much as possible of the grist to their own sacks, that they do not realize the true situation. They do hear the groans of the less fortunate and often give, generously, for their aid, but as the number of "unfortunate" grows rapidly larger, many get to feel that general relief is hopeless; and they get used to the present conditions and settle down to the enjoyment of their special blessings and comforts, and, [R1607 : page 7] for the time at least, forget the troubles of their fellow creatures, – their brethren after the flesh.
But there are a few who are well circumstanced and who more or less clearly see the real situation. Some of these, no doubt, are manufacturers, mine owners, etc. These can see the difficulties, but what can they do? Nothing, except to help relieve the worst cases of distress among their neighbors or relatives. They cannot change the money standard accepted by the civilized world. They cannot change the present constitution of society and destroy the competitive system in part, and they realize that the world would be injured by the total abolition of competition without some other power to take its place to compel energy on the part of the naturally indolent.
Should these few who see the difficulty and desire to curtail the operations of the law of competition attempt to put their ideas into force in their own mills, they would soon become bankrupt. For instance, suppose that the manufacturer had in his employ fifty men at an average wage of $2.00 per day of ten hours. Suppose that, under the present business depression, caused by "money stringency" and "overproduction," his orders decreased so that one fifth of his men were idle. Suppose, then, that instead of discharging any of them he should decrease the hours of labor two hours, and make eight hours a day's labor at the same price as before. What would be the consequence? He would lose money, lose credit, become a bankrupt, and bring upon himself the curses of the creditors injured by his failure, who would charge him with dishonesty. His influence would be lost, and even his neighbors and relatives formerly assisted by him would suffer, and reproach him.
It is evident, therefore, that no one man or company of men can change the order of society; but it can and will be changed by and by for a perfect system based, not upon selfishness, but upon love and justice, by the Lord's power and in the Lord's way, as pointed out in the Scriptures.
We have heretofore shown that the Scriptures point out a radical change of society. Not a peaceful revolution, by which the errors of the present system will be replaced by wiser and more just arrangements, but a violent removal of the present social structure and its subsequent replacement by another and satisfactory one of divine arrangement.
We do not say that there will be no patching of the present structure before its collapse. On the contrary, we assert that it will be patched in every conceivable manner. We expect many of these patchings during the next fifteen years – female suffrage, various degrees and schemes of Socialism and Nationalism, etc.; but none of these will do, the patches upon the old garment will only make its rents the more numerous, and its unfitness for patching the more apparent.
No, we should do neither. God has not revealed these things to the world, but to his saints; and the information is not for the world, but for his consecrated people. And this class the Lord directs to "live peaceably;" not to revolutionize, but to be "subject to the powers that be;" not to avenge themselves on those who legally oppress them, but to wait for the justice which they cannot secure peaceably. "Wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth [symbol of society] shall be devoured with the fire of my zeal. For then [after the complete destruction of the present social structure or symbolic "earth"] will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent." (Zeph. 3:8,9.) Let God's people trust him even while they see the waves of trouble coming closer and closer. God is both able and willing to make all things work for good to those who love him – the called ones according to his purpose. – Rom. 8:28. [R1607 : page 8]
To those who are not of the saints, but who are seeking to deal justly and who are perplexed on the matter, we say: The Lord had you in mind, and has sent you a message, which reads: "Seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be that [in consequence] ye shall be hid [protected] in the day of the Lord's anger." – Zeph. 2:3.
The probabilities are that, in harmony with the Apostle's prediction and figure (1 Thes. 5:3), the present trouble or pang of travail will gradually pass away, and be followed by another era of moderate prosperity, in which the worldly will measurably forget the lessons now somewhat impressed upon them. But let all who are awake remember that each succeeding pang may be expected to be more severe, until the new order of things is born; and let each seek, so far as possible, to live and deal according to the rules of love and justice, the principles of the new dispensation shortly to be introduced.
"It is an unmitigated evil and the veriest social and national curse. Much of our national and domestic degradation is due to this pernicious caste system. Young India has been fully convinced that if the Hindoo nation is once more to rise to its former glory and greatness this dogma of caste must be put down. The artificial restrictions and the unjust – nay, in many cases, inhuman and unhuman – distinctions of caste must be abolished. Therefore, the first item on the programme of social reform in India is the abolition of caste and the furtherance of free and brotherly intercourse between class and class as also between individual and individual, irrespective of the accident of his birth and parentage, but mainly on the recognition of his moral worth and goodness of heart.
"Freedom of intermarriage. Intermarriage, that is marriage between the members of two different castes, is not allowed in India. The code of caste rules does not sanction any such unions under any circumstances. Necessarily, therefore, they have been marrying and marrying for hundreds of years within the pale of their own caste. Now, many castes and their subsections are so small that they are no larger than mere handfuls of families. These marriages within such narrow circles not only prevent the natural and healthy flow of fellow-feeling between the members of different classes, but, according to the law of evolution, as now fully demonstrated, bring on the degeneration of the race. The progeny of such parents go on degenerating physically and mentally; and, therefore, there should be a certain amount of freedom for intermarriage. It is evident that this question of intermarriage is easily solved by the abolition of caste.
"Prevention of infant marriage. Among the higher castes of Hindoos it is quite customary to have their children married when they are as young as seven or eight, in cases not very infrequent as young as four and five.CHILD MARRIAGE AS PRACTICED.
"Evidently these marriages are not real marriages – they are mere betrothals; but, so far as inviolability is concerned, they are no less binding upon the innocent parties than actual consummation of marriage. Parties thus wedded together at an age when they are utterly incapable of understanding the relations between man and woman, and without their consent, are united with each other lifelong, and cannot at any time be separated from each other even by law; for the Hindoo law does not admit of any divorce. This is hard and cruel. It often happens that infants that are thus married together do not grow in love. When they come of age they come to dislike each other, and then begins the misery of their existence. They perhaps hate each other, and yet they are expected to live together by law, by usage and by social sentiment. You can picture to yourselves the untold misery of such unhappy pairs. Happily, man is a creature of habits; and providence has so arranged that, generally speaking, we come to tolerate, if not to like, whatever our lot is cast in with. But even if it were only a question of likes and dislikes, there is a large number of young couples in India that happen to draw nothing but blanks in this lottery of infant marriage. In addition to this serious evil there are other [R1608 : page 8] evils more pernicious in their effects connected with infant marriage. They are physical and [R1608 : page 9] intellectual decay and degeneracy of the individual and the race, loss of individual independence at a very early period of life when youths of either sex should be free to acquire knowledge and work out their own place and position in the world, consequent penury and poverty of the race, and latterly the utterly hollow and unmeaning character imposed upon the sacred sacrament of marriage. These constitute only a few of the glaring evils of Hindoo infant marriage. On the score of all these the system of Hindoo infant marriage stands condemned, and it is the aim of every social reformer in India to suppress this degrading system. Along with the spread of education the public opinion of the country is being steadily educated; and, at least among the enlightened classes, infant marriages at the age of four and five are simply held up to ridicule. The age on an average is being raised to twelve and fourteen; but nothing short of sixteen as the minimum for girls and eighteen for boys would satisfy the requirements of the case. Our highest ideal is to secure the best measure possible; but where the peculiar traditions, customs and sentiments of the people cannot give us the best, we have for the time being to be satisfied with the next best and then keep on demanding a higher standard.MARRIAGE LAWS IN GENERAL.
"The Hindoo marriage laws and customs were formulated and systematized in the most ancient times; and, viewed under the light of modern times and western thought, they would require in many a considerable radical reform and reasoning. For instance, why should women in India be compelled to marry? Why should they not be allowed to choose or refuse matrimony just as women in western countries are? Why should bigamy or polygamy be allowed by Hindoo law? Is it not the highest piece of injustice that, while woman is allowed to marry but once, man is allowed (by law) to marry two or more than two wives at one and the same time? Why should the law in India not allow divorce under any circumstances? Why should a woman not be allowed to have (within the lifetime of her husband) her own personal property over which he should have no right or control? These, and similar to these, are the problems that relate to a thorough reform of the marriage laws in India. But, situated as we are at present, society is not ripe even for a calm and dispassionate discussion on these – much less than for any acceptance of them, even in a qualified or modified form. However, in the no distant future people in India will have to face these problems. They cannot avoid them forever. But, as my time is extremely limited, you will pardon me if I avoid them on this occasion.
"Widow marriage. You will be surprised to hear that Hindoo widows from among the higher castes are not allowed to marry again. I can understand this restriction in the case of women who have reached a certain limit of advanced age, though in this country it is considered to be in perfect accord with social usage even for a widow of three score and five to be on the lookout for a husband, especially if he can be a man of substance. But certainly you can never comprehend what diabolical offense a child widow of the tender age of ten or twelve can have committed that she should be cut away from all marital ties and be compelled to pass the remaining days of her life, however long they may be, in perfect loneliness and seclusion. Even the very idea is sheer barbarism and inhumanity. Far be it from me to convey to you, even by implication, that the Hindoo home is necessarily a place of misery and discord, or that true happiness is a thing never to be found there. Banish all such idea if it should have unwittingly taken possession of your minds.
THE book of Genesis opens with the grandest theme that ever occupied the thoughts of created intelligences; the Work of God, in bringing into being the material universe, and peopling it with organic, conscious life. The style and manner of treatment are in harmony with the grandeur of the theme. In few and powerful strokes, the progressive stages of the work are pictured to the mind, on a scale of magnificence unparalleled in writings human or divine.
It is much to be regretted that these characteristic traits of the account of the Creation, shadowing forth its impenetrable mysteries in broad and general outlines, should have been overlooked in its interpretation. This sublime [R1608 : page 10] Epic of Creation, with its boldly figurative imagery, and poetic grandeur of conception and expression, has been subjected to a style of interpretation, suited only to a plain and literal record of the ordinary occurrences of life. Hence, not only its true spirit, but its profound teachings, have been misconceived and misinterpreted; and its exhibition of the mysteries of creative power, which science traces in its own observation of Nature, have been confounded with popular misapprehensions, irreconcilable with the well-known facts of science.
A reconciliation of the Biblical account with the facts of Geological science has been attempted on a false theory; namely, that the several stages in the earth's formation took place in an assumed interval of time between the first and second verses; an interval of vast and indefinite length, unnoticed by the sacred writer. During this interval, the successive processes in the formation of the earth was completed, and the successive orders of vegetable and animal life, the remains of which are found imbedded in its strata, were brought into existence and perished; that the account of the present state of things on the earth's surface begins with the description in the second verse, representing the chaotic condition of its surface after the last of its great internal convulsions; and what follows, in verses 3-31, occurred in six natural days of twenty-four hours.
1. There is no foundation for it in the sacred writer's statement. He gives no intimation of such an interval. It is thrust in, where there is no indication that it was present to his mind, and no reason for it in the connection.
2. It assumes that the sacred writer has not given us an account of the Creator's work, but only of a part of it; that for unknown ages the earth was peopled with vegetable and animal life, of which no record is made.
3. It is without support in the facts ascertained by science. Scientific investigation shows that no such convulsion, as is assumed in this theory, occurred at the period preceding the creation of man.
Hence the latest advocates of this theory are driven to the assumption, that what is revealed in verses 3-31 has reference only to a small area of western Asia; being nothing more than the reconstruction of that little segment of the earth's surface, broken up and thrown into confusion by an internal convulsion, and the creation there of the new orders of vegetable and animal life that now occupy the globe.
On this supposition, the earth had already enjoyed the full light of the sun for ages, before the work of the first day (verse 3) began. Even then all around this little tract, the earth was in a blaze of light; but over this tract dense mists shut out the rays of the sun. God said: "Let there be light!" The mists grew thinner, letting in sufficient light for the time, though not enough to disclose the forms of the heavenly orbs, which were not seen there till the fourth day, though visible everywhere else. Then follow, in rapid succession of single days, the formation of continents and seas, the clothing of the earth with vegetation, and the peopling of it with the various classes of irrational animals, and finally with Man.
The infinite God has not revealed his work of creation on such a scale as this; and its proportions are better suited to the conception of the timid interpreter, stumbling at minute difficulties and seeking to evade them, than to the grand and fearless exposition of his work from God's own hand.
4. It is an unworthy conception of the Creator and of his work. Why was the work of creation extended through six natural days, when a single divine volition would have brought the whole universe into being, with all its apparatus for the support of life, and its myriads of living beings? Its extension through six successive periods, of whatever duration, can be explained only by the operation of those secondary causes, which the structure of the earth itself proves to have been active in its formation, requiring ages for their accomplishment.
It is now established, beyond question, that the earth we inhabit was brought into existence many ages before man was created. During these ages it was in process of formation, [R1608 : page 11] and was gradually prepared, under the divine direction, for its future occupation by man. In those vast periods, succeeding each other in long procession, it was fitted up for his abode by accumulations of mineral wealth within its bosom. These processes required ages for their completion, as represented in the sacred narrative, and recorded by the divine hand in the successive strata enveloping the earth, and marking the progressive stages of its formation.*
The writer has no claim to speak as a geologist, and does not profess to do so. He takes the teachings of geology as given us by eminent masters of the science, entitled to speak on its behalf. But, speaking as an interpreter of God's Word, and taking their representation of their own science, he sees no discordance between the two records, which the same divine Author has given us in his Word and in his works. The former, when rightly interpreted, is in perfect accord with the latter, when truly exhibited. And geologists themselves assert that the Word of God, so interpreted, is in harmony with the teachings of their science. This alone is sufficient to satisfy the candid and conscientious inquirer. But they assert, also, that the divine Word explains the divine work, while the divine work confirms the divine Word. Moreover, no human philosophy could have discovered, or conjectured, what is here revealed.* The divine record was made when science had not yet penetrated the mysteries of Nature; when the earth's record of its own history was still buried deep in its enveloping strata, and had been read by no human eye. As, therefore, no one witnessed the scenes described, or had read the "testimony of the rocks," the written account, if true, as science admits it to be, must have been of superhuman origin.
1. The act of bringing matter into being. Its condition as "waste and empty," and subjection to the divine influence imparting to it its active properties. Production of light, as the first effect of this imparted action.+
These periods of creative activity, and the cessation that followed, were presented to the mind of the sacred writer under the familiar symbolism of the six days of labor and the seventh of rest. This was a natural and intelligible application of it; the word day, the simplest and most familiar measure of time, being used in all languages for any period of duration, of greater or less extent; and it is specially appropriate in such a style of representation as we find in this chapter.
The six days of labor, and the seventh of rest, having been adopted as the symbolism under which these sublime mysteries are revealed, whatever properly belongs to it, and [R1609 : page 12] is essential to its full expression, is pertinent to the writer's object. Each period being represented by a "day," its beginning and end are described in terms proper to represent a day: "there was evening and there was morning." This was necessary, in order to preserve the symbolic representation.
It should be observed that the sacred writer, throughout this account, represents things under forms of expression most easily apprehended by the common mind. The narrative was given to instruct, and not to perplex and confound, the common reader, as it would have done if expressed in scientific forms, adapted to a higher stage of culture than the Bible requires, or could properly presuppose, in its readers.
Such a view of the sacred narrative exalts our conception of the divine Architect, and of his work. He who inhabits eternity has no need to be in a hurry. With him, a thousand years are as one day. It was not till ages of preparation had passed away, that his purposes found their entire fulfilment, and his work its completed unity, in the creation of man.
According to the distinguished teachers of science – Professors Silliman, Guyot and Dana – the account of the creation recognizes two great eras, an inorganic and an organic, consisting of three days each; each era opening with the appearance of light, that of the first being cosmical, that of the second solar for the special uses of the earth.*
It need not be supposed that the sacred writer read in these wonderful revelations all the mysteries which they contain, or that they were seen by those to whom the revelations were first addressed. It was not necessary that he or they should be made wise in physical learning beyond the wants of their time; and the symbolism itself conveyed all the instruction they needed.
VERSES 26-30. "And God said, We will make man in our image, after our likeness," etc. The plural form of the pronoun used here calls to mind the statement of John with reference to "the only begotten Son of God," "the beginning of the creation of God," "the first born of every creature," that "he was in the beginning [of creation] with God;" that "all things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made" – 1 John 4:9; Rev. 3:14; Col. 1:15,16; John 1:2,3.
Man was created in the image and likeness of God, having mental and moral faculties corresponding, so that he could appreciate and enjoy communion with his maker, for whose pleasure he was created. "Male and female created he them," not only for the propagation of the race, but also that the twain might find their happiness complete in their mutual adaptability to each other and to God. Their dominion was to be the whole earth, with all its products and resources and all its lower forms of life – a wide and rich domain affording ample scope for all their noble powers.
VERSES 31; 2:1,2. "And God saw all that he had made, and behold, it was very good." The physical earth was very good. It was a good storehouse of valuables for his intelligent creature, man; a good field [R1609 : page 13] for the exercise of his powers; a good place for his discipline and development; and finally a good and delightful home for his everlasting dominion and enjoyment. And so with the whole material universe, all of which was answering the ends of its creation; and so with all the laws which God had set in operation, all of which were wise and good and for the ordering, perpetuity and development of the purposes of their great designer. And so also with man, God's intelligent creature, created in his own image and likeness. Truly he was very good – morally, intellectually and physically – a likeness which God was not ashamed to own and to call his son. – Luke 3:38.
VERSE 3. "And God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it; because on it he rested from all his work which God in making created." Here God established the order of sevens – an order of time to be observed throughout his plan subsequently. Six periods of equal length were to constitute the working days, and the seventh was the appointed period of rest. To this principle he subjected his own course in the work of creation. No special reference is here made to the seventh day of the week; but rather to the seventh period in any future division of time which his plan might indicate. In conformity with this principle the seventh day was appointed to the Jews under the law as a day of rest, a sabbath. So also their seventh week, seventh year and their culmination in the Jubilee or Sabbath year were on the same principle. (See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., Chap. 6.) And likewise the seventh millennium or seventh thousand-year day is to be a Sabbath, a blessed and hallowed day of rest; for so God appointed in his ordering of time.
We have heretofore shown, and will in some future volume of M. DAWN again present the evidences, that the seventh day of God's rest, which began just after man's creation, has continued ever since, and is to continue one thousand years into the future – to the full end of Christ's Millennial reign – in all a seven-thousand-year day. During this long day Jehovah God rests – avoids interference with the operation of the laws under which originally he placed all his earthly creation. (See Heb. 4:3,10; John 5:17.) He rests from or ceases his direct work, in order to let Christ's work of redemption and restitution take its place and [R1610 : page 13] do its work as a part of his divine plan.
If thus the seventh day be a period of seven thousand years, it is but reasonable to say that the six days of creation preceding were also periods of seven thousand years each. Thus the entire seven days will be a period of forty-nine thousand years; and the grandly symbolic number fifty, following, speaks of everlasting bliss and perfection in full harmony with the divine plan.
It will be well to notice in connection with this lesson the general disposition of teachers and Lesson Papers toward the theory of evolution; – denying that God made man in his own image; claiming that he was practically only a step above the orang-outang. Mark such teachings. They are misleading and contrary to the ransom. For if Adam were not created in God's image, then the account of his trial and fall (See next lesson) is nonsense; and if man did not fall a ransom would be absurd, and a restitution (Acts 3:19-21) would be a most undesirable thing.
LESSON II., JAN. 14, GEN. 3:1-15.
In the brief text of this lesson we have recorded the cause and beginning of all the woes that have afflicted humanity for the past six thousand years. It was not a gross and terrible crime that brought the penalty which involved us all, but a simple act of disobedience on the part of our first parents against the righteous and rightful authority of an all-wise and loving Creator, the penalty of which act was death.
This was the extreme penalty of the divine law, and its prompt infliction for the very first offense – an offense too, which, in comparison with other sins that have since stained the race, was a light one – is a clear declaration of the Creator that only a perfectly clean creation shall be accounted worthy to abide forever. A celebrated photographer will not permit a single picture to leave his gallery which is not up to the standard of perfection, even if the party for whom it was taken is pleased with it. Every photograph must reflect credit upon the artist. Just so it is with the divine artist: [R1610 : page 14] every creature to whom eternal life is granted must do credit to its great author; otherwise he shall not survive. God's work must be perfect, and nothing short of perfection can find favor in his eyes. – Psa. 18:30; Hab. 1:13; Psa. 5:4,5.
The test of character must necessarily be applied to every intelligent creature possessed of a free moral agency – in the image of God. In the case of our first parents it was a very simple test. The tempter was not necessary to the testing: the tree in the midst of the garden, and the divine prohibition of the tasting or handling of it were the test. The tempter urged the course of disloyalty; and this God permitted, since both the tempter and the tempted were free moral agents, and both were subjects of the test. In assuming that position, Satan also, as a free moral agent, was manifesting his disposition to evil – proving himself disloyal to his Creator and a traitor to his government. The serpent was an irrational, and therefore an irresponsible, instrument of the tempter, and in choosing such an instrument Satan unwittingly chose an apt symbol of his own subtle, cunning and crafty disposition. The penalty pronounced upon the serpent could make no real difference to the unreasoning creature, but in the words apparently addressed to it, in man's hearing, was couched the solemn verdict of the responsible, wilful sinner, which, for the evil purpose, had used the serpent as his agent.
VERSES 1-3. The prohibition was clearly stated and clearly understood. They were not to eat of the forbidden fruit; neither should they touch it, lest they die. So should we regard every evil thing, not exposing ourselves to temptation, but keeping as far from it as possible.
VERSE 4. The assertion – "Ye shall not surely die" – was a bold contradiction by the "father of lies" of the word of the Almighty – "Ye shall surely die." And it is marvelous what a host of defenders it has had in the world, even among professed Christians, and in the present day. Nevertheless, the penalty went into effect, and has been executed also upon all posterity ever since – "In the day thou eatest thereof, dying, thou shalt die" – i.e., in the gradual process of decay thou shalt ultimately die. The day to which the Lord referred must have been one of those days of which Peter speaks, saying that with the Lord a thousand years is as one day. (2 Pet. 3:8.) Within that first thousand-year day Adam died at the age of nine hundred and thirty years.
VERSES 5-7. The reward which the deceiver promised was quickly and painfully realized. The offenders could no longer delight in communion and fellowship with God, and with fear and shame they dreaded to meet him; and in the absence of that holy communion with God and with each other in the innocent enjoyments of his grace, the animal nature began to substitute the pleasures of sense. The spiritual nature began to decline and the sensual to develop until they came to realize that the fig-leaf garments were a necessity to virtue and self-respect; and in these they appeared when called to an account by their Maker.
VERSES 8-11. The natural impulse of guilt was to hide from God. But God sought them out and called them to account – not, however, to let summary vengeance fall upon them, but while re-affirming the threatened penalty, to give them a ray of hope. The fig-leaf garments had spoken of penitence and an effort to establish and maintain virtue, and the Lord had a message of comfort for their despairing hearts, notwithstanding the heavy penalty must be borne until the great burden-bearer, "the seed of the woman," should come and assume their load and set them free.
VERSES 12,13. In reply to the inquiry of verse 11 Adam told the plain simple truth, without any effort either to justify himself or to blame any one else. Eve's reply was likewise truthful. Neither one tried to cover up the sin by lying about it. Nor did they ask for mercy, since they believed that what God had threatened he must of necessity execute; and no hope of a redeemer could have entered their minds.
VERSE 14 is a figurative expression of the penalty of Satan, whose flagrant, wilful sin gave evidence of deliberate and determined disloyalty to God, and that without a shadow of excuse or of subsequent repentance. No longer might he walk upright – respected and honored among the angelic sons of God, but he should be cast down in the dust of humiliation and disgrace; and although he would be permitted to bruise the heel of humanity, ultimately a mighty son of mankind, the seed of the woman, should deal the fatal blow upon his head.
Mark, it is the seed of the woman that shall do this; for he is to be the Son of God, born of a woman, and not a son of Adam, [R1610 : page 15] in which case he would have been an heir of his taint and penalty, and could not have redeemed us by a spotless sacrifice in our room and stead. God was the life-giver, the father, of the immaculate Son of Mary; and therefore that "holy thing" that was born of her was called the Son of God, as well as the seed of the woman; and because thus, through her, a partaker of the human nature, he was also called a Son of man – of mankind.
The number of Infidels heard from, converted to faith in the Bible through the instrumentality of MILLENNIAL DAWN and the WATCH TOWER is truly remarkable. Below we give communications from three prison convicts, two of whom were Infidels but a short time ago. The doctrine of everlasting torment which they had all heard for years neither drew nor drove them to the Crucified One; but the "good tidings of great joy for all people" has conquered them.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I acknowledge at this late day the receipt of your last very kind favor, knowing that you will, in the circumstances of my incarceration, find apology for my delay. My report to you now is full of encouragement. Our chaplain recently perfected arrangements whereby all who desired (with the exception of two who were inadvertently deprived the opportunity this time) partook of the Lord's table. The number actually partaking was fifty-two. A very large percentage of these are men who have never before made any profession of Christianity. All – I know of only two exceptions – have begun reading the Bible in prison. Many have given up idle habits and evil ways, and are pressing on to know the Lord, determined [R1611 : page 15] to become "sanctuary" Christians; and a very respectable number – say fifteen or twenty – are sanctuary Christians. The noon prayer-meeting has never faltered, but has continued to grow in grace and number until, in point of number, we have reached a limit beyond which we cannot go.
Taking every thing into consideration, Brother, do you not think the Lord is bestowing upon us blessings of a marked character? Among those who have come to the Lord are two Jews, one of whom, I believe, intends writing to you.
The two sets of DAWN and VOL. I. (which I found and which led me to correspond with you) are all continually in service. They have proved a great blessing to many. The copy of TOWER – a most invaluable help – is also on the go, and highly appreciated; and some of us in the edition containing the paper on "The Church of the Living God," were impressed to find how opposite was the teaching to our own way of worshiping. "Surely this is the house of God." I doubt not you will hear in person from several in this place who have derived great benefit from the DAWN series and TOWER; for they hold you and Sister R. in very high esteem, in Christ.
I enclose to you herewith two poems, written by one of our number. If they meet your favor, we will hope to see them in the TOWER when space affords. They are original, and the author does not object either to the use of his name, or the mention of the place from which they are written, his desire being that they may be used in the most effective manner, for the glory of our beloved Lord and Savior.
Speaking for myself, I am, by the grace of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, enabled to say that I have walked daily in close communion with him, ordering my ways by his written Word, under the guidance and teachings of the holy spirit. I am resting now in his keeping power. The conflict, in which the spirit of the old man had to be broken, was long and severe; but, thank God, I was strengthened daily by his grace, to the end that in my weakness his strength was perfected. I love the brethren, yet do I realize that this same love is to be made perfect. I cannot tell you, dear friends, how much I feel indebted to you for a perusal of the helps which you are [R1611 : page 16] sending out into the world; but of this you may be assured, that both yourself and Sister R. and all of your co-laborers are carried before the throne of grace in my prayers night and morning; and I am confident that my prayers are heard. God willing, I am due to be discharged from this place next summer, after which I may meet you; but I lay no plans. Henceforth I belong to Jesus, and he is not only able, but willing, to direct my efforts, abilities and time; and to him I am now fully and wholly committed.
Praying that you may be continued in the service and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ until he is ready to bestow the crown, and the approval, "Well done, good and faithful servant," upon you, I subscribe myself Christ's, and yours in Christ unfailingly,
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL: – I feel I owe a debt of gratitude to you both, and I take this opportunity to convey to you my expressions of love and esteem, for your fearless and noble attitude in DAWNS and TOWERS, which I have had the good fortune to read, through kindness of our brother [writer of the above letter]. I had, previous to reading them, accepted Jesus as my Redeemer, but was beset by doubts and fears on account of the differences in my views from those of others I knew, and felt I was wrong, until (Praise the Lord) your works came to hand, and gave me fresh courage; and now I am determined that nothing shall separate me from Christ. This testimony will, I hope, be all the more acceptable because it comes from one to whom the very name of Jesus has been one of antipathy, from the fact that I am a Jew. Though a young man of only twenty-four years, I have been all but an open infidel – a "fatalist."
I have read and re-read each page of DAWN with increasing interest, and I thank God for leading me into his secret – that the things spoken by the prophets are now fulfilled, and that we are drawing near to that day when all things shall be revealed. I have read your article in the TOWER on Baptism, and I thank the Lord for letting me have light on that subject. I have been in doubt how I could be baptized without assenting to some of the creeds and dogmas of the day, which I never could believe, and have felt that I must always be beyond the pale of the church. But, praise the Lord, your views are approved by my judgment – reached from the same source, the Word. Then I was fearful, lest I was being led away by pride; but now I shall, at the first opportunity, be immersed into Christ. What a beautiful symbol it is of a complete surrender of self and a resurrection in Christ. It is not a mere empty form, but an actual surrender and living.
Will you kindly send me some information as to the work? also a few tracts, for here are souls hungry for the bread of life. I wish to know all about the work, that I may fully determine my attitude now; and if the Lord can use me, I am ready. There is a mighty work going on within these walls, and each day sees another soul step out into the glorious liberty of Christ Jesus.
Dear Brother, my time here is drawing to a close, and soon I shall begin the battle against the world. I wish you to keep me before the throne of grace, as I do you and your work. May the Lord bless and keep you, is the earnest prayer of
Yours in Christ,
There is nothing within me that ever I might
Give as reason why Jesus should wash my soul white.
I had mocked at his mercy so often before,
He might have forsaken my soul evermore.
But still in his wonderful mercy so free,
He had room in his heart for a sinner like me.
I would not attend, though so often he cried,
"Son! look at my hands and the wound in my side;
Oh, think of the love that could bring thy Lord down
To buffeting, hate and a brow-piercing crown.
I bore all that anguish to set thy soul free."
But Christ's love and mercy were nothing to me.
He bore with me long, and he followed me far
O'er the way where allurements and lusts ever are:
He brought me to bay, and he led me to think,
With my feet slipping fast o'er the terrible brink
To destruction and death, put the devil to rout.
Then I came, and he never has since cast me out.
He is ever the same; and his Bible declares,
There's rejoicing above o'er a penitent's prayers;
That sins, red as scarlet, can be white as the snow,
If o'er them the blood of the Savior but flow.
He is pleading and calling, poor sinner, for thee:
He'll not refuse you, since he saved one like me.
SUBSCRIPTION PRICE, $1.00 A YEAR, IN ADVANCE, By Express Order, Postal Money Order, Bank Draft, or Registered Letter. Foreign only by Foreign Money Order.
N.B. – Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accidents, or other adversity, are unable to pay, will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
We have quite a number of calls for these calendars for this year. Those who got them last year seem to have been pleased and profited by them. They contain excellent selections of Scripture texts, one for each day of the year. The text for each day is pulled off, showing that for the day following.
The usual retail price of these calendars is 35 cents each. We have arranged for a large quantity, and can supply them at less than half price – two calendars for twenty-five cents; postage paid by us.
However, this promptness on the part of so many will hinder our promptness in the changing of the dates on some of the address tags. We hoped to indicate on the tag of this issue all receipts up to Jan. 1, but some must wait over until our next issue.
It seems impossible, too, for us to answer any but the most important letters – except by the WATCH TOWER articles (which frequently are designed to meet inquiries), and by a Postal-card referring you for answers to back numbers of the TOWER or to M. DAWN. Be assured that we are pleased to receive and read all of your welcome letters. It requires much less time to read than to answer them.
We called attention last year to the inauguration of Experience and Prayer Meetings, in various parts of this city and Pittsburg, held every Wednesday evening, under the leadership of different brethren, who move from one meeting to another every quarter. We want to tell you that these meetings have been growing in interest and profit from the first. They average from six to eighteen in attendance, and now could not be dispensed with. The spiritual sentiment of the Congregation of the Lord, which meets every Sunday at Bible House chapel, was never before as good as at present; and under the Lord's blessing we attribute this to these meetings.
Thus far they have been chiefly experience meetings (doctrinal questions are avoided at these meetings); but we propose that for the coming year they shall take on more of a prayer feature. All have learned to express themselves to one another, and all should learn to "draw nigh to the throne of the heavenly grace, that each may obtain mercy and find grace to help in every time of need," before the brethren, as well as privately.
Several little groups here and there have written us that they have tried the plan and have been blessed thereby. We therefore urge all groups, everywhere, to try this service faithfully, during the year beginning. And those who have no companionship and fellowship in the truth will all the more need just such an evening each week for personal inspection, and praise and worship, and thanksgiving to the Giver of every good gift. Try it!
Those who dispose of their TOWERS after reading them once or twice do themselves an injury. Preserved, they would often refresh your memory. A "Patent Binder" holding forty-eight copies, lasting for two years, we can supply for fifty cents; or you can keep them in order without one, or in a home-made binder. Order extra copies for loaning or giving to your friends. If you cannot afford to pay for the extra copy, say so, and we will send it upon the usual terms to "the Lord's poor" – free.
[R1611 : page 19]
|VOL. XV.||JANUARY 15, 1894.||NO. 2.|
EMERGING from that blackness of error called Calvinism, with its heaven of blessing for the "little flock" and its eternal torment of all others, as taught by good but sadly deceived men – John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Charles H. Spurgeon and others – into the glorious light of the goodness of God, shining in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord and revealed in the divine Plan of the Ages, the writer was subjected to the same attacks of Satan (the great Enemy of God and man) to which all others seem to be exposed. Coming as an angel of light, he seemed to welcome us into the light out of the gross darkness which he himself had brought upon the world. And while our heart trembled with joy, and yet with fear also, lest after all we should find some evidence that God would do some terrible and unjust thing, to at least some of his creatures, the suggestion came, God will not permit any to be lost.
At this time the word lost still had associated with it that unscriptural, wicked and awful meaning of eternal torment; for, although we had gotten rid of that misbelief, and saw that lost means dead, destroyed, the influence of that old error still gave a false coloring to the words formerly supposed to teach it. Hence the greater force in the suggestion that God would not permit any to be lost; – for surely no enlightened mind can candidly imagine the eternal misery of a solitary individual in all of God's universe.
Reason and judgment swayed for a time, first to one side and then to the other, according to circumstances and moods, until we learned that our reasoning powers are not to be relied upon to settle such questions; that they are imperfect as well as liable to be prejudiced; and that for this cause God had given us his inspired Word to guide our reasoning faculties into proper channels. Then, appealing to the Scriptures, we found abundant proof that unless God therein trifles with his children's confidence (and as men would say "bluffs" them, with suggestions and threats which he knows he will never execute) there surely will be some lost as well as some saved.
Among these Scriptures are not only those similes which speak of the salt which lost its value, and was thenceforth good for naught, but to be trodden under foot, and of the destruction of those servants which would "not have this man to rule over" them (Matt. 5:13; Luke 19:14,27), etc., but the following plain statements: –
Some "wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction." – 2 Pet. 3:16.
"Pride goeth before destruction." – Prov. 16:18.
"The Lord preserveth [saves] the souls of his saints." – Psa. 97:10.
"The Lord preserveth all them that love him, but all the wicked [not the ignorant] will he destroy." – Psa. 145:20.
"False teachers...bring in damnable heresies,...and bring upon themselves swift destruction." – 2 Pet. 2:1.
Some are "vessels of wrath fitted to destruction." – Rom. 9:22. [R1611 : page 20]
"Them that walk after the flesh...shall utterly perish in their own corruption." – 2 Pet. 2:10-12.
"The destruction of the transgressors and of the [wilful] sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed." – Isa. 1:28.
The Lord will "destroy them that corrupt the earth." – Rev. 11:18.
Some fall into "many foolish and hurtful lusts [desires], which drown men in destruction." – 1 Tim. 6:9.
"For many walk,...the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction." – Phil. 3:18,19.
"Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction." – 2 Thes. 1:9.
"If any man defile the temple of God, him will God destroy." – 1 Cor. 3:17.
"The judgment of God [is] that they who do such things are worthy of death." "Because that, when they knew God, they... became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." – Rom. 1:32,21.
"Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." – Heb. 4:1.
"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the holy Spirit, if they should fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh and put him to an open shame." – Heb. 6:4-6.
"See that ye refuse not him that speaketh; for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth [Moses, the typical teacher], much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven." "Looking diligently, lest any man fail of the grace of God." – Heb. 12:25,15.
"The soul that will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among his people." – Acts 3:23.
"By one offering he [Christ] hath perfected forever them that are sanctified....Let us [therefore] draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith....Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, ...exhorting one another, and so much the more as ye see the [Millennial] Day drawing on. For if we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more [part for us in the] sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall consume the adversaries." – Heb. 10:14,22-27.
If "he who [in the typical nation] despised the law of Moses [the typical lawgiver] died without mercy, of how much sorer [more serious] punishment shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot [disgraced] the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the [New] Covenant an unholy [ordinary] thing, and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace?" Surely the wages of such conduct would be everlasting, while that in the type was not, but was covered by the great sacrifice for sins once for all. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." – Heb. 10:28,29,31.
"His servants ye are to whom ye render service; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness." – Rom. 6:16.
"The end of those things is death." – Rom. 6:21.
"To be carnally minded is [to reap the penalty] death; but to be spiritually minded is [to reap the reward] life and peace." – Rom. 8:6.
"Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." – Jas. 1:15.
"There is a [kind of] sin unto death;... and there is a [kind of] sin not unto death." – 1 John 5:16.
"Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill [destroy] the soul [being]: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna [the second death]." – Matt. 10:28.
"The wages of sin is death." – Rom. 6:23.
"As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?" – Ezek. 18:32; 33:11.
What could be more explicit than this testimony of God's Word! And how reasonable it all is. Torment might properly be objected to as unjust as well as unmerciful; but taking away the life of those who will not conform their lives to the just and holy and kind regulations of the New Covenant which God has [R1611 : page 21] opened to our race, through Christ's great atoning sacrifice, is reasonable, just and merciful.
It is just: because God is under no obligation to man. Man is already his debtor ten thousand times; and if he will not render loving respect to his Creator's wise and good commands, Justice would demand that those blessings be stopped.
It is merciful on God's part to destroy the incorrigibly wicked – those who, after full knowledge and opportunity have been enjoyed, refuse to be conformed to the lines of the law of God's Kingdom – the law of love. (1) Because all who will live ungodly – out of harmony with God's law of love – will always be like the restless sea, more or less discontented and unhappy. (2) Because such characters, be they ever so few, would mar the enjoyment of those who do love peace and righteousness. And to these God has promised that the time shall come when sin and its results, weeping and pain and dying, shall cease (Rev. 21:4), when he will destroy out of the earth those who corrupt it. (Rev. 11:18.) (3) Because God has promised that there shall yet be a clean world (Isa. 11:9; Rev. 21:5), in which the unholy and abominable and all who love and make lies shall have no place. (Rev. 21:8.) "Thou shalt diligently consider his place and it shall not be." – Psa. 37:10.
Only such as are puffed up with a sense of their own benevolence can hold that God never would be satisfied or happy if one of the race perished. God has gotten along very well without the sinners thus far, and could do so forever. It was not for selfish reasons that he redeemed all, and is about to restore all who will accept his favor in Christ.
But some attempt to evade the foregoing statements of Scripture with the claim that they refer to wickedness, and not to wicked people; that they mean that all wicked people will be destroyed by their conversion – by having their wickedness destroyed. We ask those who so think to read over these words of God again, carefully, and see that they could not, reasonably, be so construed. Notice that even though the Word mentioned nothing about the destruction of wicked doers, but merely mentioned the destruction of wickedness and wicked things, this would nevertheless include wicked doers; because, of all wicked things, intelligent, wilful evil-doers are the worst. But the Word does specify wicked persons; and all who are familiar with rules of grammar covering the question know that when the person is specified the destruction of his wickedness merely could not be meant.
"The lake of fire, which is the second death" (Rev. 20:14), is "prepared for the devil and his angels [messengers or servants]." (Matt. 25:41.) And all who, with Satan, serve sin are his servants or messengers. (Rom. 6:16.) For such, yes, for all such, and for such only, God has prepared the penalty of "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power." And from Satan their chief down to the least one of his children who, notwithstanding knowledge and opportunity to the contrary, cling to evil, and choose it rather than righteousness, this tribe will be blotted out to the praise of God's justice, to the joy and welfare of the holy and to their own real advantage.
It will not do to judge others by ourselves, in all respects. The fact that God's saints do not feel opposition to God's will, and cannot understand how others can entertain such sentiments, sometimes leads to the false conclusion that if all others enjoyed a similar knowledge of God they too would delight in his service. That such a conclusion is false is evident, from the fact that Satan, who knew God thoroughly, "abode not in the truth," but became "the father of lies" and "a murderer." And, after six thousand years witness of sin and its results, he is still the Adversary of righteousness. After nearly two thousand years knowledge of the love and [R1611 : page 22] mercy of God manifested in Christ's sacrifice for sin, he is still as unmoved by that love as he is unmoved by pity for human woe. And more than this: God, who knows the future as well as the past, shows us, unquestionably, that after being restrained (bound) for a thousand years by the power of Christ's Kingdom, and during that time witnessing the blessings of righteousness, he will, when granted liberty at the close of the Millennium, still manifest a preference for the way of sin and opposition to God's arrangements. Surely this proves that intelligent beings, and perfect beings, too, can know God and yet choose a way of disobedience, – whether or not our minds can grasp the philosophy of their course.
But the philosophy of the matter is this: A perfect being, angel or man, is a blank page upon which character must be engraved. Knowledge and a free will are the engravers. Pride, Selfishness and Ambition may be engraved, or Love, Humility and Meekness. The latter is the blessed or God-like character; the former is the sinful or devilish character. According to which is engraved will be the character. If the will decide for sin and cultivate the wicked character, the result will be a wicked being. If the will decide for righteousness and God-likeness, the result will be a holy being.
The same principles in a general way apply also to fallen men. No matter how fallen and weak they may be, they have free-wills. They can will aright, even when they cannot do aright. And under the New Covenant God accepts, through Christ, the imperfect deeds, where the wills are perfect.
For some who are now evil doers and lovers of sin, our hope is, that they are such because of blinding of the devil (2 Cor. 4:4), which leads them to make a choice they would not make if they had a full, clear knowledge. God's guarantee to all, through Christ, is, that all shall come to an accurate knowledge of the truth, and thus to a full opportunity to choose between righteousness and sin. We have no hope for any who, after coming to a clear knowledge, choose sin, wilfully: neither in this age nor in the next is there hope for such, according to God's Word.
I am to speak to you to-night upon unfulfilled prophecy as interpreting the signs of the times. As pertinent to that theme, I ask you to look with me at the passage found in Luke 12:54-56: "And he said also to the people, when ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straitway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is. And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass. Ye hypocrites! Ye can discern the face of the sky, and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?"
As a matter of fact, the ancient people of God did not discern the time of their visitation, the presence of their long expected Messiah, simply and only because they did not study the signs of their own times in the light of the prophets. From Genesis to Malachi the spirit of prophecy had been painting, broadly at first, but stroke upon stroke in ever fuller detail, the portrait of a coming one. His biography, to change the figure, was written beforehand.
In due time he came, and prophecy began to be changed into history. For three years he filled the earth and air with the very marks of identity which the prophetic portrait required. To this day the absolutely unanswerable proof of the messiahship of Jesus is the unvarying literalness of his fulfillment of the prophecies. The prophets and the evangelists answer to each other as the printed page answers to the type, as the photograph answers to the negative. And these predictions, be it remembered, were so minute and specific as to exclude the possibility of imposture. It is open to any man to say, "I am the Christ;" but it is not possible for any man to arrange his ancestry for two thousand years before his birth, and then to be born at a precise time, in a particular village, of a virgin mother.
Looking back upon all this, we marvel that the men of Christ's own time did not hit upon [R1611 : page 23] the simple expedient of testing his pretensions by the prophetic Scriptures. More than once he challenged the test, but they remained to the end discerners of the sky and of the earth, but absolutely blind to the tremendous portents of their time.
But is it not possible, at least, that we are equally blind to equally evident signs? We have the prophetic word "made more sure," says Peter, who calls it a "light shining in a dark place," and warns us that we do well to take heed to it. But are we walking in that light? Rather, is it not true that the prophetic Scriptures are precisely the portions of the sacred book least studied? Of this we may be sure: there is nothing occurring which has not been foreseen and foretold; and of this, too, that the things foretold will surely come to pass. Is it not possible, therefore, that our Lord is saying of us: "How is it that ye do not discern this time?"
Let us proceed after this manner: First, let us look at the prophecies which describe the closing events of this dispensation and usher in the next. Second, let us look about us to see if our sky holds any portent of those things.
"In the last days perilous times shall come. There shall be signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars, and upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory." (Luke 21:25-27.) "But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the presence of the Son of Man be. For, as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away; so shall also the presence of the Son of Man be." (Matt. 24:37-39.) "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape." And then, referring to [R1612 : page 23] the abundant prophetic testimony in our hands, the apostle adds, "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." – 1 Thess. 5:3,4.
It is useless to multiply references when all are to the same purport. The notion that we are to pass, by the peaceful evolutionary processes of a broadening culture, by the achievements of discovery and inventions and by the universal acceptance of the gospel, into the golden age of millennial blessedness is, in the light of prophecy, the baseless fabric of a dream. True, the prophet's vision takes in that day; but it lies beyond the awful chasm of blood and tears and despair which yawns between. Toward that chasm this age is hastening with accelerated speed: this age ends in catastrophe.
So much for the broad and obvious prophetic testimony which he who runs may read. Now the book of the Revelation (and to some extent Second Thessalonians) takes up these prophecies of the end time, and enters into the detail of them. By this we know not merely that the end is calamitous and catastrophic, but also of what elements the calamitous catastrophe is made up. Observe, I do not say that the Revelation tells us what precedes the catastrophe, but of what the catastrophe itself consists.
And first it is war, and war such as this world has never seen, war colossal, universal and desperate. "Peace shall be taken from the earth." Not only organized combat of nation against nation, but the murderous passions of men shall be unchained, and "they shall kill each other." The natural results of such a condition are depicted as following famine, consequent upon unsown fields, and then pestilence.
Now, it is evident that if we are indeed near the end of this age, some unmistakable signs of these coming horrors must be discoverable. Wars on the apocalyptic scale require long years of preparation. In primitive conditions, tribe springs to arms against tribe; but we are not living in primitive conditions. If, therefore, we find the nations of the earth steadily reducing their armaments, selling off their war material, sending regiments back to the forge and the plow, and dismantling fortresses, we may be sure, not indeed that the prophecies will fail, but that they will not reach their fulfillment in our time.
Similarly, anarchy in any universal sense is not the product of an hour. The conservative instincts are too strong, love of home and property and security too deep-seated. Men may, as they have, overturn a government; but it is only to establish another which they prefer. But anarchy, pure and simple, is not a spontaneous possibility. If, therefore, we find men [R1612 : page 24] everywhere growing in love of order and veneration for law; if we find lynchings and riots becoming infrequent, and discontent with the settled order disappearing, we may be sure that the end of the age is far removed from us. We may go on with our buying and selling, confident that our accumulations will represent some fleeting value for yet a few transitory years.
Nor need we be specially apprehensive if, upon a survey of the times, we find but a nation or two here and there in readiness for war; or a few anarchic socialists noisily venting their theories. But what are the facts – facts so conspicuous, so obtrusive, so inconsistent, that all the world feels itself under the shadow of impending calamity?
Take the war shadow first. Have armaments been decreasing? On the contrary, Europe, the east, everything within the sphere anciently ruled by Rome (which is the especial sphere of prophetic testimony), is filled as never before with armed men. All the nations, with feverish haste, are increasing their armaments. Practically bankrupt, they are hoarding gold and piling up material of war, though perfectly aware that the strain is simply insupportable for any long continued period; and they are doing it because they all feel that a tremendous crisis is at hand.
Within two years Bismarck and Gladstone, the most experienced and sagacious of living statesmen, have said that the situation does not admit of a peaceful solution, that the world is hastening toward the war of wars, the outcome of which no man may predict. This is also the expressed opinion of that singular man whose only position is that of Paris correspondent of the London Times, but whose wisdom, judgment and prudence are such that he is consulted by every cabinet and trusted by every sovereign – De Blowitz. And all are agreed that the war, when it comes, must involve the earth.
Eleven millions of men are armed and drilled and ready to drench the prophetic earth in seas of blood. The Emperor William has said to his friend, Poultney Bigelow: "We live over a volcano. No man can predict the moment of the eruption. So intense is the strain that a riot the other day between French and Italian workmen at Aigues-Mortes – a mere riot – came near to precipitating the awful conflict."
So much for the war sign of the end. What of the anarchic portent? We all know that now for the first time in the history of the world is there a socialist propaganda. Socialism is a fad with dreaming doctrinaires, a desperate purpose with millions of the proletariat of Russia, France, Germany, England, Italy.
From the philosophic socialism of Bellamy and the idealists to the anarchic socialism of Spies, Schwab and Neebe may seem a far cry. How long in 1790-93 did it take France to traverse the distance from Rousseau and Diderot to Robespierre? Yes, my hearers, the anarchy sign blazes in our heavens alongside the baleful war sign. But there is more. Two groups among the sons of men are especially in the eye of prophecy – the Christian church and ancient Israel. What, let us ask, is the prophetic picture of the end of the Church age? The answer is in large characters, and none need miss it. The Church age ends in increasing apostasy, lukewarmness, and worldliness on the part of the many; of intense activity, zeal and devotedness on the part of the few.
What now are the signs? Look into our Churches. The world has come into the Church and the Church has gone into the world, until the frontier is effaced. Moral and honorable men of the world point the finger of scorn at the life of the average professor of religion. But in all our Churches are the faithful few who do the praying, the giving, the home and foreign mission work; and these have never been excelled in any age in zeal, piety and consecration. Verily, this sign, too, of the catastrophe is here.
What of Israel? As all Bible students know, the great burden of the unfulfilled prophecy concerning the Jew is his restoration to his own land. This does not mean that every Jew must return, but only that the nation must be reconstituted upon its own soil. Is there any sign of this? Every reader of the newspapers has his answer ready. In a word, there are more Jews in Palestine now than returned under Ezra and Zerrubabel to reconstitute the nation after the Babylonian captivity. More have returned in the last ten years than within any like period since the destruction of Jerusalem – more in the last three years than in the previous thirty. The great bulk of the Jewish people are in Russia, where now they are undergoing persecutions so infamous as to move to indignation and grief every generous soul. Moved with pity, Baron Hirsch is seeking to deport his suffering brethren to South America; but the Russian Jews themselves, moved by undying faith in the prophets, have organized the great Choveir Lion association to promote the colonization of Palestine. This will succeed; the other, in large measure, will fail.
And so, my friends, looking through the vision of the prophets on to the end-time for [R1612 : page 25] conditions, and then sweeping our own sky for signs, we find the four great portents – preparation for universal war, universal anarchy, a worldly Church and regathering Israel lifting themselves up into a significance which the world dimly apprehends, but which we, who are not of the night that that day should overtake us as a thief, know means that the end is just upon us. How glorious that this lamp of prophecy not only casts its rays into the awful abyss upon the brink of which the age hangs poised, but also lights up the fair Millennial shore just beyond, where the nations of the redeemed shall walk in light and peace under Messiah's rule, with restored Israel the manifestation of his earthly glory. And even beyond that golden age we are permitted to see the new heavens and the new earth – eternity.
A ghastly sight shows in the shivering air
On Calvary's brow:
The Savior of mankind, in love, hangs there;
While followers bow
The head low on the breast and sadly sigh,
"How can he be Messiah – if he die?"
A jeering mob surrounds the cursed knoll
And mocks the Lord;
Yet to his lips comes from his stricken soul
The precious word –
"Father, forgive; they know not what they do – "
E'er o'er his face creeps dissolution's hue.
"'Tis finished," rings in triumph through the sky;
He bows his head.
And; while the querying soldiers mark the cry,
The Lord is dead.
All anguish past, his triumph doth begin,
The world is saved, a death blow dealt to sin.
Jerusalem, amazed, hears soldiers tell
(With terror cold)
How Christ has vanquished Satan, death and hell,
As he foretold.
And feeble fishers forcefully proclaim,
"There is salvation in no other name."
A Sabbath's journey from the city gate,
With sorrow shod,
Two sad disciples bear their sorry weight
To their abode.
The Christ appears, while holden are their eyes,
And doth expound wherefor Messiah dies.
Emmaus reached, the Lord would further go.
They gently chide –
"Thou hast beguiled our weary tears, and so
With us abide."
He brake their bread, – then vanished from their sight.
Their hearts did burn with holy joy that night.
Still thus he comes; and though the faulty sight
Of clouded eyes
Perceives him not, he makes the burden light,
And stills our cries:
For, like weaned babes, we mourn, the while he would
Our hearts sustain with stronger, richer food.
The tale is old, but ever sweetly new,
Why Jesus died.
The nail prints, doubting one, he shows to you,
And in his side
A spear thrust gapes – a passage rent apart,
For easy access to your Savior's heart.
It was for you, my brother, that he shed
His life so free.
For you, for me, he bowed his godlike head
On Calvary's tree;
That, trusting in the merit of his name,
We might be saved from sorrow, sin and shame.
The past sufficeth, surely, to have spent
In sinful deeds.
Come, join our band; and be our footsteps bent
Where Jesus leads.
So in his righteousness serenely dressed
We'll meet him face to face among the blest.
"Happiness is not to be confounded with palatial dwellings, gorgeously fitted with soft seats and yielding sofas, with magnificent costumes, with gay balls or giddy dancing parties, nor with noisy revelries or drinking bouts and card tables; and as often, if not oftener, in that distant lotus land, as in your own beloved land of liberty, you will come across a young and blooming wife in the first flush of impetuous youth who, when suddenly smitten with the death of the lord of her life, at once takes [R1612 : page 26] to the pure and spotless garb of a poor widow, [R1613 : page 26] and with devout resignation awaits for the call from above to pass into the land which knows no parting or separation. But these are cases of those who are capable of thought and feeling. What sentiment of devoted love can you expect from a girl of twelve or fourteen whose ideas are so simple and artless and whose mind still lingers at skipping and dollmaking? What sense and reason is there in expecting her to remain in that condition of forced, artificial, lifelong widowhood? Oh, the lot of such child-widows! How shall I depict their mental misery and sufferings? Language fails and imagination is baffled at the task. Cruel fate – if there be any such power – has already reduced them to the condition of widows, and the heartless, pitiless customs of the country barbarously shave them of their beautiful hair, divest them of every ornament or adornment, confine them to loneliness and seclusion – nay, teach people to hate and avoid them as objects indicating something supremely ominous and inauspicious. Like bats and owls, on all occasions of mirth and merriment they must confine themselves to their dark cells and close chambers. The unfortunate Hindoo widow is often the drudge in the family; every worry and all work that no one in the family will ever do is heaped on her head; and yet the terrible mother-in-law will almost four times in the hour visit her with cutting taunts and sweeping curses. No wonder that these poor forlorn and persecuted widows often drown themselves in an adjoining pool or a well, or make a quietus to their life by draining the poison-cup. After this I need hardly say that the much-needed reform in this matter is the introduction of widow marriages.SOME HINDOO REFORMERS.
"The Hindoo social reformer seeks to introduce the practice of allowing such widows to marry again. As long ago as fifty years one of our great pundits, the late pundit V.S. of Bombay, raised this question and fought it out in central and northern India with the orthodox Brahmans. The same work, and in a similar spirit, was carried out in Bengal and Northern India, by the late Ishwar Ch. V. Sagar of Calcutta, who died only two years ago. These two brave souls were the Luther and Knox of India. Their cause has been espoused by many others, and until to-day perhaps about two hundred widow marriages have been celebrated in India. The orthodox Hindoos as yet have not begun to entertain this branch of reform with any degree of favor, and so anyone who marries a widow is put under a social ban. He is excommunicated; that is, no one would dine with him, or entertain any idea of intermarriage with his children or descendants. In spite of these difficulties the cause of widow marriage is daily gaining strength both in opinion and adherence.
"The position of woman. A great many reforms in the Hindoo social and domestic life cannot be effected until and unless the question as to what position does a woman occupy with reference to man is solved and settled. Is she to be recognized as man's superior, his equal, or his inferior? The entire problem of Hindoo reform hinges on the position that people in India will eventually ascribe to their women. The question of her position is yet a vexed question in such advanced countries as England and Scotland. Here in your own country of the States you have, I presume to think, given her a superior place in what you call the social circle and a place of full equality in the paths and provinces of ordinary life. Thus my American sisters are free to compete with man in the race for life. Both enjoy the same, or nearly the same, rights and privileges. In India it is entirely different. The Hindoo lawgivers were all men, and, whatever others may say about them, I must say that in this one particular respect, viz., that of giving woman her own place in society, they were very partial and short-sighted men. They have given her quite a secondary place. In Indian dramas, poems and romances you may in many places find woman spoken of as the 'goddess' of the house and the 'deity of the palace,' but that is no more than a poet's conceit, and indicates a state of things that long, long ago used to be rather than at present is.WOMEN'S BATTLE FROM BIRTH.
"For every such passage you will find the other passages in which the readers are treated with terse dissertations and scattering lampoons on the so-called innate dark character of women. The entire thought of the country one finds saturated with this idea. The Hindoo hails the birth of a son with noisy demonstrations of joy and feasting; that of a female child as the advent of something that he would most gladly avoid if he could. The bias begins here at her very birth. Whatever may be the rationale of this state of things, no part of the programme of Hindoo social reform can ever be successfully carried out until woman is recognized as man's equal, his companion and co-worker in every part of life; not his handmaid, a tool or an instrument in his hand, a puppet or a plaything, fit only for the hours of amusement and recreation. To me the work [R1613 : page 27] of social reform in India means a full recognition of woman's position. The education and enlightenment of women, granting to them liberty and freedom to move about freely, to think and act for themselves, liberating them from the prisons of long-locked zenana, extending to them the same rights and privileges, are some of the grandest problems of Hindoo social reform. All these depend on the solution of the above mentioned problem of the position of woman in India.EDUCATION OF THE MASSES.
"The masses or the common people in India are very ignorant and quite uneducated. The farmer, the laborer, the workman and the artisan do not know how to read or write. They are not able to sign their own names. They do not understand their own rights. They are custom bound and priest-ridden. From times past the priestly class has been the keeper and the custodian of the temple of knowledge, and they have sedulously kept the lower class in ignorance and intellectual slavery. Social reform does not mean the education and elevation of the upper few only: it means inspiring the whole country, men and women, high and low, from every creed and class, with right motives to live and act. The work classes need to be taught in many cases the very rudiments of knowledge. Night schools for them and day schools for their children are badly wanted.FAILURE OF FOREIGN MISSIONS.
"Government is doing much; but how much can you expect from government, especially when that government is a foreign one, and therefore has every time to think of maintaining itself and keeping its prestige among foreign people? It is here that the active benevolence of such free people as yourselves is needed. In educating our masses and in extending enlightenment to our women you can do much. Every year you are lavishing – I shall not say wasting – mints of money on your so-called foreign missions and missionaries sent out, as you think, to carry the Bible and its salvation to the 'heathen Hindoo,' and thus to save him! Aye, to save him! Your poor peasants, your earnest women and your generous millionaires raise millions of dollars every year to be spent on foreign missions. Little, how little do you ever dream that your money is expended in spreading abroad nothing but Christian dogmatism and Christian bigotry, Christian pride and Christian exclusiveness. I entreat you to expend at least one-tenth of all this vast fortune on sending out to our country unsectarian, broad learned missionaries that will spend their efforts and energies in educating our women, our men and our masses. Educate. Educate them first, and they will understand Christ much better than they would do by being 'converted' to the narrow creeds of canting Christendom.
"The difficulties of social reformers in India are manifold. Their work is most arduous. The work of engrafting on the rising Hindoo mind the ideals of a material civilization, such as yours, without taking in its agnostic or atheistic tendencies, is a task peculiarly difficult to accomplish. Reforms based on utilitarian and purely secular principles can never take a permanent hold on the mind of a race that has been essentially spiritual in all its career and history. Those who have tried to do so have failed. The Brahmo-Somaj, or the church of Indian Theism, has always advocated the cause of reform, and has always been the pioneer in every reform movement. In laying the foundations of a new and reformed society the Brahmo-Somaj has established every reform as a fundamental principle which must be accepted before any one can consistently belong to its organization.
"Acting on the model of ancient Hindoo society, we have so proceeded that our social institutions may secure our religious principles, while those principles regulate and establish every reform on a safe and permanent footing.PLAN OF BRAHMO-SOMAJ.
"Social reform merely as such has no vitality in our land. It may influence here and there an individual; it cannot rear a society or sway a community. Recognizing this secret, the religion of the Brahmo-Somaj has from its very birth been the foremost to proclaim a crusade against every social evil in our country. The ruthless, heartless practice of suttee, or the burning of Hindoo widows on the funeral pile of their husbands, was abolished through the instrumentality of the great Raja Ram Rohan Roy. His successors have all been earnest social reformers as much as religious reformers. In the heart of Brahmo-Somaj you find no caste, no image worship. We have abolished early marriage, and helped the cause of widow marriage. We have promoted intermarriage; we fought for and obtained a law from the British government to legalize marriage between the representatives of any castes and any creeds. The Brahmos have been great educationists. They have started schools and colleges, societies and seminaries, not only for [R1614 : page 27] young men, but for girls and young women. In the Brahmo community you will find hundreds [R1614 : page 28] of young ladies who combine in their education the acquirements of the east and the west; oriental reserve and modesty with occidental culture and refinement. Many of our ladies have taken degrees in arts and sciences in Indian universities. The religion of the Brahmo-Somaj is essentially a religion of life – the living and life-giving religion of love to God and love to man. Its corner-stones are the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man and the sisterhood of woman. We uphold reform in religion and religion in reform. While we advocate that every religion needs to be reformed, we also most firmly hold that every reform, in order that it may be a living and lasting power, needs to be based on religion.
"These are the lines of our work: we have been working out the most intricate problems of Hindoo social reform on these lines. We know our work is hard, but at the same time we know that the Almighty God, the father of nations, will not forsake us; only we must be faithful to his guiding spirit. And now, my brethren and sisters in America, God has made you a free people. Liberty, equality and fraternity are the guiding words that you have pinned on your banner of progress and advancement. In the name of that liberty of thought and action, for the sake of which your noble forefathers forsook their ancestral homes in far-off Europe, in the name of that equality of peace and position which you so much prize and which you so nobly exemplify in all your social and national institutions, I entreat you, my beloved American brothers and sisters, to grant us your blessings and good wishes, to give us your earnest advice and active cooperation in the realization of the social, political and religious aspirations of young India. God has given you a mission. Even now he is enacting, through your instrumentality, most marvelous events. Read his holy will through these events, and extend to young India the right hand of holy fellowship and universal brotherhood."
Would that America, with all its advantages of the gospel, were able to give the needed help; but no, in common with all "Christendom," she has fallen short of her privileges, and is unable to save India from the ditch toward which she herself is blindly drifting. But, thank God! help is coming, and that right speedily, in the glorious establishment of the Kingdom of God over all the earth; and our blessed Christ, the Prince of peace, shall himself "speak peace unto the heathen; and his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth." – Zech. 9:10.
[The following lines, from a recent journal of Madras, India, show what some of the best Hindoo minds are thinking at the present time.]
"Weary are we of empty creeds,
Of deafening calls to fruitless deeds;
Weary of priests who cannot pray,
Of guides who show no man the way;
Weary of rites wise men condemn,
Of worship linked with lust and shame;
Weary of custom, blind, enthroned,
Of conscience trampled, God disowned;
Weary of men in sections cleft,
And Hindoo life of love bereft,
Woman debased, no more a queen,
Nor knowing what she once hath been;
Weary of babbling about birth,
And of the mockery men call mirth;
Weary of life not understood,
A battle, not a brotherhood;
Weary of Kali yuga years,
Freighted with chaos, darkness, fears;
Life is an ill, the sea of births is wide,
And we are weary; who shall be our guide?"
I. QUAR., LESSON III., JAN. 21, GEN. 4:3-13.
VERSES 3-5. Coupled with the first promise of deliverance from sin and death through the seed of the woman, was the typical foreshadowing of the great sacrifice of "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world," when God substituted the garments of skin, which required the sacrifice of life, for the fig-leaf garments of Adam and Eve. Whether more plainly told them or not, we know that the idea of typical sacrifices for sin was received, and offerings were made at certain intervals of time – probably yearly, as subsequently commanded under the Jewish dispensation, and also as indicated by the sacrifices of Cain and [R1614 : page 29] Abel – Cain's offering being of the fruit of the ground, a part of his harvest, and Abel's a firstling or yearling of his flock.
The offering of Abel was, according to the divine institution, a sacrifice of life, and therefore a true type of the promised redemptive sacrifice, while Cain's offering was not. Hence the offering of Abel was acceptable to God, while that of Cain was rejected.
VERSES 6,7. "And Jehovah said unto Cain, Why art thou angry? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin croucheth at the door, and unto thee is its desire; but thou canst rule over it."
VERSE 8 shows that Cain disregarded the counsel received and allowed his anger to burn unchecked. He failed to resist the enemy Sin, here figuratively represented as a devouring beast, and it gained control of him, and drove him, first to unkind words, and finally to murder.
VERSE 9. One sin leads to another unless promptly acknowledged. Here the sin of murder was followed by those of lying and insolence – "I know not. Am I my brother's keeper?"
VERSES 10-12. The blood of Abel cried for vengeance upon the murderer. That is, Justice insists that he who takes the life of another thereby forfeits his own right to live.
VERSE 13. When Cain began to realize the deep remorse of a guilty conscience, in his agony of mind he cried out, "My punishment is greater than I can bear;" and in connection with the unbearable load he mentions regretfully the hiding from him of Jehovah's face, showing thus an appreciation of God's favor to which he would fain return. This evidence of penitence was quickly responded to by the Lord, who graciously set a mark upon Cain, that no one finding him should slay him, declaring that any such transgressor should receive sevenfold punishment. Thus the Lord guards the penitent. A bruised reed he will not break, and smoking flax he will not quench. (Isa. 42:3.) If there be even a slight disposition to penitence, he fosters and cherishes it. This merciful course with Cain foreshadowed God's similar course with the whole guilty world: when his chastisements shall have brought them to repentance, then his arm will be extended for their recovery.
The Golden Text shows that it was not by custom nor by accident that Abel chose his sacrifice, but by faith. Evidently he had been seeking the mind of the Lord, and had found it; and thus was enabled to offer acceptably. So with God's children now: it is to those who exercise faith, and who seek and knock, that the mind of the Lord is revealed, and they can see that nothing short of the great sacrifice, our Redeemer's life, could be acceptable before God.
The Apostle in speaking of Christ institutes a comparison (Heb. 12:24) which seems to imply that Abel was in some degree a type of Christ; – in that he offered an acceptable sacrifice, and was slain therefor. But while Abel's death called for vengeance, Christ's life was sacrificed for us and calls instead for mercy, not only upon those who slew him (Luke 23:34), but also upon the whole world. Not only was he slain by men, but he was slain for men; and by his stripes all may be healed who will penitently come unto the Father by him. [R1614 : page 29]
I. QUAR., LESSON IV., JAN. 28, GEN. 9:8-17.
With the deluge the Apostle Peter says the first world, the first heavens and earth, passed away – i.e., that dispensation, that order of things came to an end. (2 Pet. 2:5.) That was the dispensation in which the angels were permitted to mingle with men, assuming the human form for that purpose, the object being to influence and help mankind to retrieve their great loss by the fall. This, God knew they could not do; but in his wisdom he permitted the endeavor, foreseeing the ultimate utility of such an experiment. [R1615 : page 29]
The immediate result was the corruption of some of the angels (Jude 6,7), who, leaving their first estate, took to themselves wives of the daughters of men; and by these mixed marriages a mongrel race of "giants" was produced, who, having the unimpaired vitality of their fathers and the human nature of their mothers were indeed "mighty men of renown" – "giants" in both physical and intellectual strength, especially as compared with the fallen and rapidly degenerating human race. – Jude 6,7; Gen. 6:2,4.
The account of the deluge is not merely a Bible narrative, but is corroborated by the traditions of all races of the human family [R1615 : page 30] except the black race. It is found in India, China, Japan, Persia, among the native Indians of America and the natives of the Pacific Islands. What are known as the Deluge Tablets were found not long since among the ruins of the great stone library of Nineveh. The accounts given by these harmonize in many respects with the Scriptural account.
The extreme wickedness of these men and of the world in general, as described by the inspired writer, seems indicative of almost total depravity – "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that EVERY imagination of the thoughts of his heart was ONLY EVIL, CONTINUALLY. (Gen. 6:5.) So God determined to wipe them all from the face of the earth, saving Noah, who "was perfect in his generations," and his family; that is, he was not of the mixed race, but was of pure Adamic stock; and his heart was right before God. – Gen. 6:9.
With Noah, after the flood, God again established his covenant, as he had done with Adam at the beginning, giving to him dominion over the earth, as he had done with Adam. (Gen. 9:1-12.) And here again, as at the beginning, he indicates the true nature of the marriage relation – a union of one man and one woman as husband and wife, which order began to be violated very early in the world's downward history. – Gen. 4:19.
The rainbow in the clouds was given as a sign of God's covenant with man, that the earth should never again be destroyed by a flood of waters. So ended the first dispensation, or the first world, the heavens and earth that then were, as Peter describes it (2 Pet. 3:6); and so began the second dispensation, "this present evil world" (2 Pet. 3:7; Gal. 1:4), the heavens and earth which now are, which are soon to pass away with a great noise, which are to be burned up with the fire of God's jealousy, and whose elements are to melt with fervent heat; for, like that first great dispensation, it also has become corrupt. (2 Pet. 3:10-12; Zeph. 1:18.) And when this present evil world will have thus passed away, then the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, shall appear. – 2 Pet. 3:13.
In this destruction of worlds it will be seen, as the Prophet also declares (Eccl. 1:4; Psa. 104:5; 119:90); that "the earth abideth forever." The same physical earth remains, and is the scene of all these great revolutionary changes, which so completely destroy the preceding order of things as to justify the mention of them under the significant symbols of a new heavens and a new earth. See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., Chap. iv.
While the present world – this present order of things – is also doomed to pass away, and will be replaced by another new dispensation, the new heavens and earth, God's promise, of which the bow in the clouds was a pledge, will be kept: he will never again destroy the world with a flood of waters; but it is written that all the earth shall be consumed with fire: not a literal fire, but the fire of God's jealousy (Zeph. 3:8) – a symbolic fire, a great calamity, which will completely destroy the present order of things, civil, social and religious. [R1615 : page 30]
I. QUAR., LESSON V., FEB. 4, GEN. 12:1-9.
VERSE 1. The Lord had commanded Abraham to leave his native land, etc., while he was yet in Haran (verse 4); and later, when his father was dead, and when he arrived in the land of Canaan, God showed him the land and gave him the title to it for himself and his seed after him for an everlasting possession. (Verse 7; 17:8.) Thus we have a very important point in chronology established, viz., the date of the Abrahamic covenant. See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., pages 44-47.
VERSES 2,3. In partial fulfilment of this promise, the nation of Israel has indeed become a great nation – a nation unique in its separation from other nations, and in its peculiar history under the divine guidance. And the promises and threatenings of verse 3 will in due time be dealt out to those who bless and to those who oppress her.
The blessing of all the families of the earth through Abraham and his seed – which seed is Christ, head and body, as the Apostle Paul explains (Gal. 3:16,29) – is a promise which few Christians have duly considered. All the families of the earth must certainly include the families that have died, as well as the families that are living. And it points forward, therefore, to the grand millennial reign of Christ, when, according to his Word, all that are in their graves will [R1615 : page 31] hear the voice of the Son of Man, and shall come forth. – John 5:25,28.
Nor is God's dealing with this nation yet ended; for the gifts and callings of God are not things to be repented of or changed. In God's due time, after the full completion and glorification of the elect Gospel Church, the mercy of the Lord shall again turn toward the seed of Jacob. And so all of fleshly Israel shall be saved from present blindness, as it is written, "There shall come out of Zion the deliverer [the Gospel Church, the spiritual seed of Abraham – Gal. 3:29], and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob;" for this is God's covenant with them. – Rom. 11:25-33.
The remaining verses of the lesson show that Abraham obediently followed the Lord's direction, walking by faith in his promise. Thus his acts attested his faith, and his faith, thus attested, was acceptable to God. – Jas. 2:22.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I came into possession of the truth so recently, that I feel that I should work with might and main, day and night, for the remnant of my days. Oh, how blessed to come to the thousand three hundred thirty and five days!
I have given some lectures, and have invitations to lecture at other points; but I am sure it does not spread the truth as effectively as the blessed DAWNS have and will spread it. I am sure it was through the DAWNS that meat in due season was served to me, and I now rejoice with joy unspeakable.
My dear Brother, I pray that all the saints may make themselves ready for the glorious union with their Lord and Head, and specially for you and your helpmeet, Sister Russell, that you may be faithful in your work of labor and love.
Your brother in Christ,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – The TOWER has come regularly to hand, each number filled to overflow with the "Gospel of Peace." "The poor in spirit" – the "humble" and "meek" – are indeed refreshed, yea, filled, after reading the many spiritual subjects treated in the pages of the various issues of that welcome guest. Often have I turned from the burdens, sorrows, cares and temptations of the world, and sought comfort, consolation and peace, and found them, in their pages, as the Editor, through the holy Spirit, unfolded the spiritual meaning of the different texts from the standpoint of the "Plan of the Ages." You and Sister Russell have my earnest prayers for the divine blessing in your efforts to obey the injunction – "feed my lambs," "feed my sheep"; and as each presses quietly and persistently along the narrow way to glory, honor, immortality, eternal life, may the indulgent Father tender the "helping hand"; knowing that the way is rugged, steep, difficult and beset with many dangers.
"Oh! how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of Peace." Kindly and lovingly yours in the Master's service,
TOWER PUBLISHING CO.: – I received the Diaglott and the two Swedish DAWNS, and am exceedingly well pleased with all. I had feared that the Swedish translation would not be equal to the original; but I am indeed agreeably disappointed. The force and clearness of tone, the lucidity and charm of language, are so happily transferred as to make it a literary treat, beside its innate, inestimable worth as a help to Bible study and a luminary in the dense darkness that has so long vailed the many precious truths of God's Word. May God richly bless its author.
Very gratefully yours,
DEAR BROTHER: – I am having quite a struggle of it here, in the territory in which I have been canvassing for a few days past, running only six, seven or eight books a day. This is the hardest experience I have yet encountered for so many days at once. However, if I can manage to meet my actual expenses through the winter, and can endure the cold weather, I shall be satisfied.
When I entered this particular phase of the harvest work, it was not with the motive of becoming wealthy. Had that been the desire, I would have taken up some more lucrative employment. At the same time, of course, I want to scatter as much of the "good seed" as is possible, in the hope that thereby some precious wheat may be found, to the glory of page 32 the Lord of the harvest. It has been my purpose (and I trust I have thus done) to give myself altogether to him who has bought me with his precious blood; and, if I understand aright what this giving means, it is to be his through good report and through evil report, in failure or in success, in sorrow or in joy, in the dark, or in the light, in life or in death, his only, wholly and forever. Pray that this may ever be my happy condition – kept through the "riches of grace" in Jesus Christ. If I try to do this in my own strength, I shall always fail. But if he accept me, and keep me, I shall then be kept indeed.
Yours in faith and fellowship,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – In the past few days I have succeeded in getting several persons thoroughly interested in the DAWN, and am in the hope that at least some of these will come into the light and prove wheat. One is a Methodist minister who has been not altogether satisfied with his belief. I have his promise to read the DAWN carefully, which I trust he will do.
I feel the dear Lord is using me to his honor and glory. Working for him is such a pleasure: such blessing I derive from it that meeting with opposition and taking the cross are not at all hard for me. I am again reading the DAWNS, and find more good things, and see more and more into the truth.
I have just read in the December TOWER your views in regard to the annual convention; and I fully agree with you. It seems to me your time should be given to the many rather than to the few. While I am very grateful for the opportunity of meeting you at the last one, I feel as if it had been at the expense of others to whom you could have given your time. We who are in the faith do not need conventions as much as we need to impart to others the blessed truths. We are, I think, willing to forego convention pleasures if doing so will hasten the publishing of other volumes of the DAWN series.
Wishing you a Happy New Year, Yours in Christian love and fellowship,
DEAR BROTHERS: – Enclosed find $1.00 to continue the WATCH TOWER. The grand news received from it last year has, praise God, filled my heart with love that I cannot find words to express. May God still continue to bless you in the work.
Yours in Christ,
Last Sunday by arrangement we met a few friends, to whom I explained our chart. I have not enjoyed a talk so well for many a day. Every one present was ripe for truth, and had not a word of opposition.
One had begun to read DAWN with a strong and firm determination to fight it from the beginning. So she read on and on and on, and, as a result, she began to see God as a God of love, and is now rejoicing in freedom and the truth. It did us much good to be of use to these few friends, and we hope for increased usefulness. Accept love in our Head.
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I have been confined to the house for some time, after having canvassed only one day; I am not discouraged, however, for my faith grows stronger day by day; and, if I cannot work in one way, I will try another, until convinced that the Master wants me to leave the field; and then he will surely show me what he would have me do. May the Master lead and give me strength to follow is my prayer.
Yesterday I was reading an account in the American Baptist of St. Louis, of the trial for heresy of J. M. Carter, pastor of a Baptist church. Some of the charges are as follows: (1) He denies the immortality of the soul. (2) He denies the consciousness of the soul between death and the resurrection. (3) He holds the restoration and possible salvation of the dead and the final annihilation of the incorrigible. It seems that the major part of the church went with him, and still retains him as pastor.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – What a great blessing it is to us to be able to understand the things coming to pass at present, so as not to be fretting and complaining about these hard times, but, "having necessary food and clothing, therewith to be content." "Godliness with contentment is great gain." Jesus is indeed a satisfying portion.
Yours in the one faith,