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THE wave of liberal sentiment which in this country lays irreverent hands upon every thing sacred, and which more and more tends toward bold and open infidelity, the denial of all divine inspiration of the Bible and the enthronement of Reason, has also recently found a voice within the pale of the church of Rome. A rector in the Catholic institute of Paris, Mgr. d'Hulst, has written a pamphlet teaching, in harmony with Dr. Briggs and those of his class, that the Bible as a whole is not an inspired book, but that it contains some inspired dogmas and moral precepts.
The pamphlet was written in defense of doctrines already set forth by M. Loisy in the same institute. The stir which this public teaching of prominent Catholic authorities made, necessitated some prompt action on the part of the Pope, to whom other professors of theology were anxiously looking for some decision. And in consequence Leo has issued an encyclical, declaring the Bible to be inspired in whole and in detail – a verbal inspiration in the original languages.
One cannot help remembering on reading such utterances the very different attitude of former popes toward the Bible, and how the hunting of heretics and the burning of Bibles were important features of papal policy a century or two ago. But now circumstances are changed: the Bible is in the hands of the people, and heretics are too numerous to persecute. But another fact has also become manifest; viz., that it is quite possible for men to reverently accept the Bible as a whole and as verbally inspired of God, and even to go through forms of Bible study, and still to reject or ignore its teachings, if only the mind be firmly fettered in a bondage to false creeds which pervert its solemn truths and make the Word of God seem to support false doctrines.
Only so long as the mind can be thus held in slavery to priests and clerics can the Bible be of any use to the antichristian systems which claim its support. It was because the Papacy doubted its ability to effectually blind the eyes and fetter the consciences of men, that in the days of her power, she sought to conceal the book and to keep it in the sackcloth and ashes of dead languages. But, failing to do this, her present policy is to pose as the friend of the Bible and of Bible study.
It is quite possible, however, that in the not far distant future the truths of the Bible, which now make the character of antichrist so manifest to the household of faith, will show to the world the enormity of her sins and her fitness for destruction; and that this book, which the "infallible" head of the papacy is now virtually forced to admit as inspired in every detail, will be seen to contain the most scathing denunciations of the whole antichristian system, and that it is really her death-warrant. [R1626 : page 66]
Father Kolasinski, some time ago, after a very sensational trial, was "unfrocked" and removed from the Roman Catholic priesthood, for insubordination and conduct unbecoming his office. Since then he has bestirred himself amongst the Polish Catholics, and has built "one of the finest churches in the West," furnished "with the finest organ in the city of Detroit," and other matters to correspond. He began preaching in it as an "Independent Church." An agent of Mgr. Satolli, ablegate of the Pope in the United States of America, recently visited Kolasinski; and, as a result of some bargain agreed upon, Father Kolasinski announced to his congregation on February 11 that he would on next Sunday apologize in three languages before his congregation, and do a week's penance, and be received back to the priesthood. He has since done so.
|VOL. XV.||MARCH 1, 1894.||NO. 5.|
THIS year, Thursday, April 19th, after six o'clock P.M., will mark the anniversary of our Lord's "Last Supper," which he gave as the memorial of his death on our behalf, saying, "This do in remembrance of me." – Luke 22:19.
In previous issues of this magazine, we have given the evidence that the Last Supper was given us to take the place of the Jewish Paschal Supper, and to be celebrated at the corresponding time, yearly. As the Paschal lamb typified Christ, the Lamb of God, so its death was typical of his death, and therefore his death was upon the same day. We have shown, also, that the Jewish method of reckoning time, as beginning the day at six P.M., was so arranged that our Lord could institute the Last Supper upon the same night in which he was betrayed (1 Cor. 11:23) – the same day in which he died.
As a Jew, under the Law Covenant, not yet supplanted by the New Covenant, it was the duty of our Lord to eat first of the typical lamb; and it was after that supper that he took bread and wine, as the symbols of his own flesh and blood, and instituted the Memorial Feast which we and all of his people since delight to celebrate.
Taking the place of the typical lamb, our Lord could be crucified only upon the fourteenth day of the month Nisan; and the commemoration of his death, and the passing over thereby effected, taking the place of the commemoration of the Passover lamb and that typical passing over, it follows that the commemoration of the antitype should be an annual observance, as was the commemoration of the type.
This we have seen was the custom of the early Church, which adopted for centuries the Jewish method of reckoning which we follow; viz., the evening, following the thirteenth of Nisan, which was the beginning of the fourteenth. This method of reckoning was afterward changed by the Church of Rome, although the thought and custom of a yearly commemoration of our Lord's death is still observed on "Good Friday" by the Church of Rome, the Greek Church, the Syrian Church and the English Church.
Protestant Churches got the Romish doctrine of the Mass confounded with the Lord's Supper, whereas they have no correspondence (See Mass in M. DAWN, VOL. III. Pp.98-101); and as a result they adopted various times and seasons, morning, noon and night, and monthly, bi-monthly and quarterly, seeing no reason for any particular date, and supposing that the Apostle's words, "as oft as ye do it," etc., Give full license to celebrate it at any time. On the contrary, we understand the Apostle to mean, Every time (yearly) that ye do this.
Some dear Christian people have even fallen into the error of commemorating this feast every first day of the week; because they have not noticed what the supper means in connection with the type which it displaces; and because they erroneously think that they find a precedent for their course in the expression of [R1625 : page 68] the New Testament, "On the first day of the week, when the disciples were come together to break bread." This does indeed show that breaking of bread every first day was the custom of the early disciples; but it does not prove that the Memorial Supper is meant. Indeed, the fruit of the vine was as important as the bread in the memorial; but it is never mentioned in connection with these weekly meetings for breaking of bread and for prayers. These, on the contrary, celebrated, not our Lord's death, but his resurrection. They were remembrancers, not of the Last Supper, but of the "breaking of bread" on the day of our Lord's resurrection, when their eyes were opened and they knew him, and he vanished out of their sight.
Had the Memorial Supper been meant, it surely would have been so stated. Like ourselves, the early disciples ate or brake bread every day: but they did not come together to do it except on the first day of the week, which celebrated our Lord's resurrection and not his death.
A little investigation will convince any one that these weekly gatherings were customary [R1626 : page 68] with all Jews, who, however, met on the last or seventh day and on festivals, instead of on the first day of the week for their "social" meals. On this point let us quote from McClintock and Strong's Religious Cyclopedia, Vol. 8, page 68, merely enough to corroborate our statement above, as follows: –
"In consequence of the vigorous laws about the observance of the Sabbath, it was enacted that no Israelite is to walk on the Sabbath beyond a certain distance, called a "Sabbath-day's journey," nor carry anything from one house to another. The Sadducees, or priestly party, who celebrated their meals on the Sabbath in different places, could go from one to another, and carry to and fro anything they liked, because they regarded these meals as constituting part of their priestly and sacrificial service, which set aside the sanctity of the Sabbath. But the Pharisees, who made their Sabbatic repast resemble THE PRIESTLY SOCIAL MEALS, had to encounter difficulties arising from the vigorous Sabbatic laws."
On Thursday evening after six o'clock, April 19th, therefore, let as many as love the Redeemer and have pledged themselves to be his followers in faith and practice, celebrate his death – "for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." Meet with all of like precious faith convenient to you, who would like to meet and celebrate this, the greatest event of history. It is to be a gathering of professedly consecrated believers in the Redeemer; but if others come in making such profession reject them not: remember that Judas met with the Lord and the other eleven. Remember, too, that the greatest among you is servant of all, who washes the feet; i.e., Performs even the humblest service for the cleansing of God's people from the defilements of earth.
The emblems used by our Lord were unleavened "bread" and "fruit of the vine." Unleavened cakes can generally be had of some Jewish neighbors for a few cents; if not, water crackers are practically the same thing. It is probable that our Lord used a "light" wine; but he has merely said, "fruit of the vine": hence we may with propriety use unfermented grape juice or raisin-juice – from raisins stewed in water. This is as truly fruit of the vine as intoxicating wine would be. And we believe that our Lord would approve it, seeing how many are now addicted to the abuse of liquor, and might be misled by even a taste of such wines as are generally obtainable.
The service here will be held, as usual, in Bible House chapel, No. 58 Arch St., at 7.30 O'clock P.M. All who trust in our Lord Jesus' death as their ransom, and who are fully consecrated to him, will be made very welcome. But we extend no special invitation to visitors [R1626 : page 69] from a distance this year; nor are there any arrangements for other than our usual Sunday services, except as above mentioned. If there be any solitary ones in near-by towns, we shall be glad to have them attend with us; but where there are even two or three who can unite in this memorial, our suggestion is that they had best meet together at home.
On previous occasions of conventions here, we have always been rather painfully aware of the fact that the various local gatherings of believers were interfered with and impaired by the absence of those who were most needed. This year we would like to see this matter quite reversed; and therefore advise that, wherever even two or three can meet together, they do so; and that even the solitary ones, if within reach of a larger and a smaller circle of believers, prefer to give their presence to the smaller rather than the larger gathering, and thus encourage and help those who need their presence most. Those who thus strive to do good to others will be the more blest themselves.
THIS parable furnishes a text for a discourse on the claims of God and Mammon upon Christians. (Verses 9-16.) The parable is plain, if it be borne in mind that stewards in olden times had much greater power and authority committed to them than now. They had all the authority of the master himself to make and to settle accounts. The steward of this narrative, when informed that he was about to lose his situation, used the power still vested in him to make personal friends out of his master's debtors, by treating them leniently. When the master of this worldly-wise steward heard of his course, he commended it as a stroke of worldly wisdom and prudence. Nor are we sure that the steward's course was one working injury to his employer's real interests: in view of the disproportionate reductions of twenty per cent on one account and fifty per cent on the other, it seems not improbable that the steward saw that the one never could pay more than fifty per cent of his debt, nor the other more than eighty per cent of his.
This illustration of worldly wisdom or prudent thought for his own interests in the future was our Lord's text for a little discourse to his disciples. They were each stewards of certain talents, opportunities, money, etc. Two masters claimed their allegiance; viz., Sin and Righteousness, and they must choose to which they would be loyal; for they could not serve both. "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon."
Sin claimed them and all of Adam's race, with all their talents, as his servants, since all had been "sold under [captivity to] Sin." They knew, however, that Sin had no just, no true right of control, but merely one of force: hence in every way that they could they had a right and privilege to divert their talents from the service of Sin and to devote them to the good of others. Wealth and influence in the present time are properly reckoned as the mammon of Sin. Sin, at present the master of the world, is represented as having control, not only of the people (Rom. 6:12,14,17,18,22,23; 7:14), but also of all the wealth-talents of the present; so that he claims each individual to be merely his steward, and demands that he use his mammon in his interest, else he will dispossess him. But our Lord taught that allegiance really belonged to another Master, even God, and that they should not serve Sin; that our Lord, as God's representative, was about to set up God's Kingdom, and overthrow Sin – binding the strong Master of the present time and spoiling his arrangements. (Matt. 12:29; Mark 3:27.) In view of this knowledge, our Lord said to his disciples: –
"I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends out of [or by means of] the mammon of unrighteousness [the earthly wealth or valuables under your control now, which at one time [R1626 : page 70] were in whole or in part controlled by Sin, your long-time task-master]; that when ye fail [when the present life ends], they may receive you into lasting habitations," into heavenly conditions – the using of our talents, once active in Sin's service, in the Lord's service being counted as laying up treasures in heaven.
This is the wise, proper course, whether you have little of earthly riches – honor, money, talent – or whether you have much; for "he that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and [knowing to which master his allegiance and talents really belong] he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much."
If, to please "the prince of this world" and to be in harmony with those who serve him, you own Sin as your master and selfishly serve him, using time and talents as his steward, for the short time of the present life, and for the small advantages which such a course would bring [R1627 : page 70] you, your unfaithfulness in these respects would prove you unworthy of the share promised to you in real riches of the real kingdom soon to be set up. – Rom. 6:14-18.
As those who have deserted the service of Sin the Usurper, and who have consecrated their all to God, you have been appointed by him stewards of those consecrated talents, with a promise that if faithful he will in the world to come make you more than stewards – kings and priests unto God. But if you prove unfaithful to your stewardship, if you love and serve mammon [wealth, either honor, money or other wealth of this world, highly esteemed by all natural men], can you hope that God will give you the true Kingdom riches which are yours conditionally? Be assured, "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon."
This was our Lord's discourse to his disciples respecting their proper course in life as stewards of the manifold grace of God. "And the Pharisees who were covetous [who dearly loved the riches and honors of this present time] heard all these things; and they derided [ridiculed] him. And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men [you succeed in getting men to think you very holy]; but God knoweth your hearts [that much that you do is merely of outward show, mock humility and pretended self-denials]: for that which is highly esteemed among men [which deceives the natural man, which he thinks very praiseworthy] is abomination in the sight of God." – Luke 16:14,15.
The Law and the Prophets were until John, – but now a new dispensation is being ushered in; and if you were wise you would see the change at hand and begin to act accordingly. Now the Kingdom of God is preached, and every man desires to get into it. You therefore should begin at once to so dispose of the stewardship yet in your hands that you might at least be on favorable terms with those who shall so soon possess the power of the Kingdom. This, to the Jews, was not a case of deserting the Law Covenant to which they were married; the Law Covenant was fulfilled, died a natural death, which permitted them to give their allegiance to Christ and the New Covenant. – Verse 18; Rom. 7:4.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I cannot tell you how highly I have appreciated the WATCH TOWER of 1893. I have derived much spiritual benefit from its study. Every number has been full of rich things – things which should be treasured up in the hearts of those who are running for the great prize and striving to make their calling and election sure.
Your articles, From Glory to Glory, Taking God's Name in Vain, Unequally Yoked, and others of a similar character, must have had a transforming power over the truly consecrated – those who are anxious to have the Lord's will done in them – while your various articles on the Ransom and Pulpit Infidelity have been and will be a source of protection to those who are truly the Lord's (in this evil day). I have found out that the TOWERS have not to be read, merely, in order to be appreciated, but they have to be studied. While away from [R1627 : page 71] home I copied parts of various articles from the TOWER and sent them to Sister McPhail to copy and return to me. I changed all the pronouns to the first person singular. I consider this an excellent way to study the TOWER, and would recommend it highly to all its readers. It helps to impress it upon the memory, and it gives one the power to tell what he knows or what he has copied. I know that it has been of great benefit to me.
I enclose you parts of two articles which will explain what I mean. Remember me kindly to Sister Russell and all of your household, and may the Lord bless you in all your efforts to "send out the light and the truth."
Your brother, in Christ,
That I have carefully studied and thoroughly proved it by the law and the testimony (Isa. 8:20), and
That I know in whom I have believed. – 2 Tim. 1:12.
That I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. – Psa. 34:8.
That I have partaken of the sweets of fellowship with him. – 1 John 1:3-7.
That I have partaken of his spirit of meekness, faith and godliness to such an extent as to be led into a joyful realization of the fulness of his grace as manifested in the wonderful, divine "plan of the ages." – John 14:26; 16:12-15; 1 Cor. 2:10-16.
That I have been permitted to see not only the various features of that plan, – The Worlds and Ages, Permission of Evil, Ransom, Restitution, Kingdom of God with its Human and Divine Phases, Second Death, Great Time of Trouble, Times and Seasons, Chronology, Harvest and its Work, etc., but also the necessity and reasonableness of its various measures in order to the full accomplishment of its glorious outcome in the fulness of the appointed times.
That the weapons of my warfare are not carnal, but (God's truth is) mighty to the pulling down of the strongholds of error, superstition and inbred sin. – 2 Cor. 10:4.
That I wrestle not with flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." – Eph. 6:12.
That it is in view of the warfare before me – the subtlety of my temptations, the weaknesses of the flesh – that the faithful Peter urges all diligence in the cultivation of the Christian graces, and a continual calling to remembrance of the precious truths I have learned – that I may be strengthened for the conflict, and thereby able to make my calling and election sure.
That faith is a good thing (without which I cannot please God, I cannot be justified, I cannot maintain my justification or have access into the additional favor, I cannot be an overcomer); yet faith without virtuous works is dead; and to hold the truth in unrighteousness is worse than never to have received it.
That I must add sterling honesty, truth and fair dealing in all business relations; moral integrity in all social relations; manifestly clean hands and a pure heart, and a bridled tongue that works no ill to a neighbor.
That all of these the world has a right to expect from me and all others who call themselves Christians; and that all of these are indispensable features of that virtuous character which must be added to my faith.
That the promptings of virtue go further than merely these negative features which refuse to do anything which would work ill to a neighbor; they incite not only to passive, but also to active goodness – in benevolent charity which seeks to alleviate suffering; to sympathize with sorrow; to comfort those in distress, and to elevate and bless others; to assist "all men as" I "have opportunity."
That I must exercise TEMPERANCE – or self-control – in all things, letting my moderation be known unto all men, and taking care [R1628 : page 72] not to be hasty, hot-tempered, rash or thoughtless; but endeavoring to be evenly balanced, thoughtful and considerate.
That my whole manner should be characterized by that carefulness which would indicate that I am ever mindful of the Lord's pleasure, of my responsibility to him as his representative, and of my influence upon my fellow-men to see that it always be for good, never for evil.
That this grace smooths the way for every other, because all must be acquired under the process of patient and continuous self-discipline; and that not a step of progress can be gained without the exercise of this grace.
That it is slow to wrath and plenteous in mercy; quick to perceive the paths of truth and righteousness and prompt to walk in them; mindful of its own imperfections, and sympathetic with the imperfections and shortcomings of others.
That kindness may be manifested where but little love exists toward the subject of such kindness; but I cannot long persevere in such acts of kindness before a sympathetic interest is awakened; and by and by that interest, continually exercised, deepens into love, and even though the subject may be unlovely in character the love of sympathy for the fallen and the degraded grows, until it becomes tender and solicitous and akin to that of a parent for an erring son.
That if I receive the truth into a good and honest heart, I have the assurance of the Apostle that I shall never fall, and that in due time I shall be received into the Kingdom of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
That I should see the necessity of ever keeping the instructions and precepts of the Lord fresh in my mind, and of drinking deep into their inspiring spirit – although I am already established in the faith.
In claiming to be a divinely recognized child of God and a follower of his dear Son, I stand before the world as God's representative; and, presumably, all my words and actions are in harmony with his indwelling Spirit.
I stand as a guide-post in the midst of the world's dark and uncertain way; and, if I am not true to my profession, I am a deceitful sign-board, causing the inquirer to lose the right way and to stumble into many a snare. Therefore, to take the name of God, claiming to be his son, a Christian, a follower of Christ, without a fixed determination and careful effort to fairly represent him, is a sin against God of which I will not be held guiltless!
I realize that to undertake the Christian life is to engage in a great warfare against iniquity; for, though the grace of God abounds to me through Christ to such an extent that my imperfections and short-comings are not imputed to me, but robed in Christ's imputed righteousness I am reckoned holy and acceptable to God, I am not, says the Apostle (Rom. 6:1,2), [R1628 : page 73] to continue in sin that grace may abound; for by my covenant with God I have declared myself dead to sin and that I have no longer any desire to live therein. But having made such a covenant with God and having taken upon myself his holy name, if I continue in sin, or cease to strive against sin, I am proving false to my profession. (Rom. 6:1,2,11,12.) This means a great deal. It means a constant warfare against the easily besetting sins of my old nature; and the struggle will be long and constant until the power of sin is broken; and then only constant vigilance will keep it down.
If I be true to my profession, I will daily strive to realize an increasing mastery over sin in myself, and will be able from time to time to distinguish some degree of advancement in this direction. I will grow more like Christ – more self-possessed, more meek and gentle, more disciplined and refined, more temperate in all things, and more fully possessed of the mind that was in Christ Jesus. My old temper and unlovely disposition will disappear, and my new mind will assert its presence and power. And thus the silent example of a holy life will reflect honor upon that holy name which it is my privilege to bear and to represent before the world, as a living epistle, known and read of all men with whom I come in contact. I realize that the formation of such a noble and pure character is the legitimate result of the reception of divine truth into a good and honest heart. Or, rather, such is the transforming power of divine truth upon the whole character, when it is heartily received and fully submitted to. "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth," was the Lord's petition on the Church's behalf; and may I not fall into the error of some, of presuming that the sanctifying work can go on better without the truth than with it? – 2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 3:3; John 15:3; 17:17; Eph. 5:26; Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18; 7:1; Psa. 19:7-14; 1 Tim. 4:16.
I need the instruction and guidance and inspiration of the truth for holy living; and our Lord's words imply that all the truth that is necessary to this end is in the Word of God, and that, consequently, I am not to look for any further revelations through visions or dreams or imaginations of myself or others. The Word of God, says the Apostle (2 Tim. 3:16,17), is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (Heb. 4:12), that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. It reveals to me the spirit, mind or disposition of God, and exhorts me to let the same mind dwell richly in me; and in conjunction with the study of the mind of God as revealed in his Word and communion with him in prayer, I receive the blessed influences of his spirit, which brings me more and more into conformity with his perfect will. I realize that to live a holy life is not to do some great and wonderful things: it is only to live from day to day a life of quiet unostentatious conformity to the will of God – of secret communion with him in my closet, devotions and daily walk, and of jealous activity to the extent of my ability and opportunity in his service. As I have named the name of Christ (2 Tim. 2:19), it is my determination – God helping me – to depart (more and more) from iniquity and apply my heart unto instruction, confident that I shall be led of God into green pastures and beside still waters: my table will be richly and bountifully spread, and my cup of blessing and joy and gladness will overflow; while the wrath of God will in due time be revealed against all who take his hallowed name in vain, however they may band themselves together, and however loudly they may proclaim themselves heaven's appointed messengers.
LIBERTY always increases responsibility. Each consecrated believer has the full liberty to use his consecrated talents in the Lord's service; but each should see to it that he does not misuse this liberty. Some are naturally inclined to undervalue their own abilities, and hence fail to be so useful servants of the truth as they might be. Others overestimate their natural talents, and waste valuable opportunities in trying to do things for which they have little or no talent; and neglect the exercise of other talents which they really do possess.
"Use not your liberty for an occasion of the flesh" – to cultivate pride and vainglory in yourself or in others. Let a man "think [of himself] soberly, according as God hath dealt out to every man the measure of faith." "All things are lawful for me [permitted by the loose rein of Christ's commands], but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not." [R1628 : page 74] "Having then gifts differing, according to the grace given unto us" – whether our gift be a qualification for prophecy, serving, teaching, exhorting, giving of means, or presiding, let us use to our best ability the gift or gifts possessed; rather than fail by trying to use other gifts not granted to us; – "In honor preferring one another," – "Mind not high things," – "Be not wise in your own conceits." – Rom. 12:3-16; 1 Cor. 10:23. [R1629 : page 74]
These Scriptural injunctions apply to everything we may do, or endeavor to do, in the Lord's service. Those who have the money talent should not only use it "with simplicity" (without ostentation), but they should use it with wisdom. It should not go to assist in preaching either slight errors or gross ones, if they know it – neither by assisting in paying the expenses of meetings, nor in paying publishing expenses. And each one should know, directly or indirectly, what he is assisting to promulgate as truth. If you have read and failed to comprehend a publication, do not suppose your mind incapable of grasping anything so deep and complex, and then proceed to circulate it among others; but conclude that if you have not the mental capacity to understand it, your safest plan will be not to run the risk of choking anyone else with it. "Whatever is not of faith is sin," applies to this as well as to other matters.
These criticisms apply to WATCH TOWER publications as well as to others. Prove by God's Word all that you receive from this office. (1) See if it squares with the doctrine of the ransom: if it does not, you need go no further with the proving. (2) If it is in accord with that foundation of the gospel, proceed to examine it in the light of all the Scriptures. (3) If it stands these tests receive it and hold it fast, as being from God; and (4) circulate it wherever you can. (5) But if ever you get from us either tract or paper which you do not find in harmony with the Scriptures, surely let us know wherein it disagrees, and do not circulate it.
This advice in no way conflicts with our Lord's words in Mark (9:39), when, in reply to the disciples' statement that they had forbidden some one to cast our devils because he followed not with them, he said, "Forbid him not." It is not for us to forbid anyone the exercise of his own talents according to his own wisdom. But if any one exercise his talents in a manner which we consider unwise or wholly or partially erroneous, it is our duty not to render any assistance to the unwise course. It is one thing to forbid, and to use sword and fagot to restrain, and quite another thing to leave them to themselves and to exercise your own talents according to your own judgment of the Lord's will. Some who are only babes in the present truth send in manuscript for publication in the TOWER and as tracts. With childlike simplicity they sometimes remark that their articles, etc., are chiefly extracts from the DAWN and TOWER. We have but one motive in publishing – namely, to disseminate the truth, as the Editor understands the Word of God to teach it. Let others publish what they please, and how they please; we forbid them not, and we assist them not if they follow not the lines of truth as we have been guided of the Lord to see them, and are seeking to follow them. Nevertheless, to guard against the rejection of truth from other quarters, if the Lord shall choose to send it, we have appointed a committee of three, consisting of the Associate Editor and two others, to examine every article sent in for publication. Upon the recommendation of any two of that committee the Editor will publish any manuscript sent in; – even though he should think it necessary to review and contradict the conclusions reached. It is the truth, and the truth only, that we desire to publish and circulate, and that in the best form of statement known to us. Take it kindly, therefore, if your articles are oftenest rejected; and know nevertheless of our love and sympathy and appreciation of your desires and efforts.
Some of the dear friends while desiring to do good are in danger of doing the reverse, by expecting that MILLENNIAL DAWN colporteurs have all the gifts and talents necessary for the public expounding of the truth, and therefore encouraging some to do so who have not those talents. This is a serious mistake which has already drawn some discredit upon the truths we all love to honor. The leaven of pride and ambition is perhaps not yet fully purged out of any, but is merely kept in subjection by grace; and all require help to overcome it and to purge it out, rather than suggestions, etc., which might develop it. Let us consider one another to provoke to love and good works. If you find a humble one with ability, encourage him in its exercise; but [R1629 : page 75] if he be not humble minded encourage him not, even though he have the ability; for the higher you push him the greater will be his fall; because "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." – Prov. 16:18.
None love or appreciate the Colporteurs and the work they are doing for the Lord and his sheep in the spread of the truth more than do we. But none more than we realize the danger to which some of them are exposed by dear Brethren and Sisters who, meeting them, expect that they are Masters in Israel and able expounders of the Word. In endeavoring to meet this expectation some stumble over supposed types, and some over parables and over symbols of Revelation, and in general, over "questions to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearer." Read 2 Tim. 2:14-21.
Of course the abilities or talents of God's servants differ; and it is proper that we should encourage such as have talents to use the best they possess in the most useful manner; but great care should be exercised to encourage only the humble, and then only in the exercise of talents or gifts possessed, and not in grasping for gifts with which they are not endowed. Our experience surely confirms the Lord's Word, that Not many great or learned or wise hath God chosen – now, nor at any time. Surely our Lord's leading and blessing seem to have accompanied the circulation of the printed truth in a remarkable degree, in the present harvest: Had he desired that the work be carried on in another way, he would have raised up more possessing the requisite abilities.
The Lord's blessing has wonderfully attended the colporteur work; so that through this agency over half a million volumes of the DAWN series are in the hands of the people, each preaching sixteen sermons on the Bible over and over again, and yielding greater and more lasting results than any public speaking. But the tendency we here mention (far more than the stringency of the times) has recently caused a great slackening of the colporteur work. Some of the ablest "harvesters" are doing less than one-tenth what they formerly did. And this in turn puts them back in their accounts with the TOWER office, so that at present the indebtedness of Colporteurs amounts to about seven thousand dollars, and causes serious inconvenience at a time when it is difficult to borrow money at a high rate of interest. This latter, however, is a secondary matter. We are glad to be able to give credit to all who need it, and whose time and energy are being expended in the work in the manner for which they have shown that they have the necessary gift or talents.
If we thought this to be a leading of Divine Providence, pointing us to a change of methods, we should at once fall into line with it and cooperate. But we do not so view it. We believe, on the contrary, that it is but another of Satan's delusions and snares by which he would hinder the work and injure the harvest laborers. If we knew of any better publications for presenting the truth than those of the Tower Tract Society, we would surely discontinue present publications and put our energy upon those. But so long as you and we know of no other publications in any degree entering the field of present truth and standing fast upon the one foundation – the ransom – we cannot doubt that this agency, so far used, should continue to be used, with all of our united energies, until the Lord shall say "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: ...enter thou into the joy of thy Lord," or until we see some better way and are sure it is the Lord's way. On the contrary, the Lord is continually sending out new laborers, and opening the way for translations of M. DAWN into other languages.
Since Christmas a Baptist Brother has received the truth, and is working at his trade and laying by the money needful to defray his expenses to New Zealand, where he hopes to spread the truth. And we have a proposition from two others to go to Australia.
All who are in agreement with the above sentiments should cast their influence by word and deed with their judgment. But let none misunderstand the loving motive which prompts you. Speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15); "others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire." – Jude 21-23.
To those possessed of fewer or humbler talents than some others, and who are diligently and faithfully using such as they do possess, we would suggest that the time is not far distant when all the faithful will be crowned with the perfect abilities which will be common to all who shall become partakers of the divine nature. Meantime, each should use what talents he has to the best of his ability; assured that the faithful over one or two talents will receive the same blessed plaudit as the faithful with five talents – "Well done, thou good and faithful servant:...enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
I. QUAR., LESSON X., MAR. 11, GEN. 28:10-22.
VERSES 10,11. Because of his faith in the promises of God and his appreciation of them, Jacob now undertook a long and lonely journey on foot, and unaccompanied, that he might escape the murderous wrath of his brother. And in so doing he was leaving behind him and practically abandoning the earthly inheritance of flocks and herds, the wealth of his father Isaac, to [R1630 : page 76] Esau his brother, while he went forth empty-handed, with nothing but his staff. But he had what he appreciated more than all else, the blessed inheritance of the Abrahamic covenant, whose fulfilment could not be reasonably expected until the city for which Abraham looked (Heb. 11:10, the Kingdom of God) should be established in the earth. He evidently did not expect temporal blessings, and he actually forsook them; but while he sought first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness, all needful temporal blessings, and more, were added.
VERSES 12-15. Here is sufficient evidence of the correctness of our estimate of Jacob's character, as presented in our last lesson. Jacob was neither condemned nor repudiated by God. On the contrary, his faith and his appreciation of God's promise made him beloved of God; and now, as he was a wanderer from home and family for the sake of his trust in God's promises, God went with him on his lonely journey; and this confirmation of the original covenant must have been most refreshing and strengthening to him. Truly, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" – Rom. 8:31.
A comparison of verse 14 with chap. 22:17 will show that while the Abrahamic covenant was to have a double fulfilment – first, in a literal sense to him and his posterity; and, second, in a spiritual sense to the spiritual children of God of whom Abraham was a type (Rom. 4:17 – margin), and who are therefore called the children of Abraham – this covenant makes mention only of the literal fulfilment which is to be realized by Jacob and his descendants – "Israel after the flesh" – as well as by Abraham and Isaac and all the prophets who shall constitute the earthly phase of the Kingdom of God. – See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., Chap. xiv.
The promise to Abraham in part was, "I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore," which language, in the light of subsequent revelations of the Apostles, is seen to signify both a spiritual and an earthly seed, the former being Christ and his body, the Gospel Church (Gal. 3:16,29), and the latter, the literal descendants of Abraham and Jacob – "Israel after the flesh." And in this seed of Abraham and posterity of Jacob, in both the literal and spiritual senses, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. The two phases of the Kingdom will cooperate in the glorious and blessed work of the restitution of all things, foretold by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began. – Acts 3:19-21.
VERSE 15 was the blessed assurance to Jacob of that which is now very shortly to be brought to pass, and which is even now beginning to be fulfilled. It signifies the regathering of Israel – often called Jacob; see Rom. 11:26 – to the land of promise. It signifies not only their regathering out from among all the nations whither they have been scattered (Ezek. 11:17; 20:34,41; 28:25), but also their coming out of their graves. (Ezek. 37:12-14.) Consequently, at the appointed time (See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II.), we expect that Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets and all Israel will be regathered from "the land of the enemy" – the grave, and from among all nations whither they have been scattered, and firmly planted in the land which God sware unto Abraham and unto Isaac and unto Jacob. We expect all this and much more when the city is established for which Abraham looked, and unto the promise of which all the ancient worthies had respect. – See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. III.
VERSES 16-19. Jacob's reverent appreciation of the Lord's communion with him in the dream is commendable. Wherever God communes with his people the place becomes a sanctuary – Bethel, or house of [R1630 : page 77] God. Now the Lord speaks to us through his Word, and we speak to him in prayer;
"And wheresoe'er God's people meet
There they may find the mercy seat:
Where'er they seek him, he is found,
And every place is hallowed ground."
VERSES 20-22. A realization of God's favor, instead of making Jacob arrogant and haughty, as less noble natures are often affected, led him in humility to a grateful consecration of himself to God, and to a sense of his own unworthiness. The word "if" in this verse might more properly be substituted by the words since, or inasmuch as, because Jacob is not here introducing a condition with God, but is expressing his acceptance of God's promise (of verse 15) to do these things. Then note how moderate were Jacob's desires for temporal blessings. All he craved for the present life were the simple necessaries of existence, while he solemnly obligated himself to tax all that he might in future acquire at the rate of 10 per cent, for the Lord's special service. And there he set up a memorial pillar that that place should ever thereafter be to him a sacred place of worship and a reminder of the goodness of God, of his covenant and of the obligations which he had assumed as a thank-offering to the Lord.
This grateful consecration on Jacob's part was a voluntary offering, not from constraint, but from love and gratitude. And in the course of all the ancient worthies who shall inherit the earthly phase of the Kingdom we see the same spirit of grateful sacrifice, which is only excelled by that of our Lord Jesus and those who closely follow in his footsteps, freely consecrating and actually sacrificing, not only one tenth, but all that they have – even unto death – that they may thereby accomplish the work which God has given them to do, and prove their worthiness of the covenant blessings to the spiritual house of Israel and seed of Abraham.
Those who have thus solemnly covenanted to present themselves as living sacrifices together with Christ, that thereby they may be heirs together with him of the spiritual blessings vouchsafed in this Abrahamic covenant, would do well to mark with what faithfulness the heirs of the earthly inheritance paid their vows unto the Most High. Mark also how thoroughly they were tested, and how bravely they stood the tests applied; and from their noble examples let us take courage while we run our race, inspired by the exceeding great and precious promises hidden for us also in that Abrahamic covenant. If Jacob asked no more than the actual necessities for the present life, surely we may be satisfied with nothing more; while we look for a still more glorious inheritance in the promised time of blessing. "Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content." – 1 Tim. 6:8.
Yet it is to be feared that many who covenant to sacrifice their all in the Lord's service actually render far less than one tenth. The size of our sacrifice is the measure of our love and zeal in the Lord's service; and time and influence, as well as financial ability, are parts of our possessions to be rendered to the Lord as thank-offerings, while out of that consecrated to him the things needful for our sustenance may be retained in harmony with the spirit of our covenant.
And, while we run, let us remember for our consolation the promise to Jacob, and through him to us – "Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee." "Faithful is he who hath called you, who also will do it." – 1 Thes. 5:24. [R1631 : page 77]
I. QUAR., LESSON XI., MAR. 18, PROV. 20:1-7.
The moral precepts of this lesson need little comment; but it is well for all to lay them to heart. There can be no vital piety where the simple precepts of morality are ignored. He who would live godly must, at the outset, abandon every vile and evil thing – must seek to purify the earthen vessel, and pray for divine grace to keep it so, and he must earnestly strive against all the downward tendencies of his fallen nature.
It has been well said that the intemperate use of spiritous liquors is an apt illustration of the course and effects of sin in general. It benumbs the sensibilities, beclouds and stupefies the judgment, weakens the will, enslaves and degrades the whole man, and finally wrecks his health and all his manly hopes and aspirations, and brings him in haste and disgrace to the grave.
Yet, while this vice is a visible and most prominent illustration of the course and effects of sin, such is the actual tendency of all sin, though its effects may not always be [R1631 : page 78] so visible, nor so hateful, nor so rapidly ruinous. All sin is intolerable in the sight of God; and to love and cherish it in its less obnoxious and more secret forms is as worthy of condemnation as enslavement to its grosser forms. Only those who abhor sin in all its forms, and who strive against the sinward tendencies of their fallen nature, and who, because of such realized and acknowledged tendencies, avail themselves of the robe of Christ's righteousness through faith in his precious blood as their ransom price, are acceptable to God. Let us flee, therefore, from every sin, and from every appearance of evil; and let us manifest our hatred of sin by a continual and lifelong striving against it; and day by day and year by year will manifest more and more of a mastery over it.
Below we add some statistics showing in figures something of the immense expense of the single sin of intemperance in the use of spiritous liquors; yet we may safely say that the half cannot be told in any such way. But who can compute the enormous expense of the whole retinue of sins, great and small, to our fallen and enslaved humanity? What enormous expense of misery and wretchedness has been incurred, for instance, by the intemperate propagation of the human species, begotten in sin, shapen in iniquity, and brought forth with the deeply engraven hereditary marks of sin into a world of temptations, deceptions and snares!
THE PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION OF LIQUORS.
Spirits withdrawn, including fruit brandy – gallons,........ 89,554,919 12 per cent, used in the arts,. 10,746,589 Consumed as beverage, ---------- gallons,...................... 78,808,330 Valuation spirits – 78,808,330 gallons @ $4.50,.............. $354,637,485 Valuation beer – 974,247,863 gallons @ 50 cents,........... 487,123,931 Domestic wines – 25,000,000 gallons @ $2.00,.............. 50,000,000 Imported beer,................. 3,051,898 Imported wines,................ 40,000,000 ----------- Total in 1891,................. $934,813,314 Estimated increase spirits in 1892,......................... 35,000,000 Actual increase beer,.......... 21,070,963 Increase domestic and imported wines,........................ 10,000,000 ------------- Total, 1892,................... $1,000,884,277 Authority, F. N. Barrett. Consumption of liquors per capita U.S. population in 1892,...... $15.28 Total expenditures of the U.S. Government 1892 per capita of population,................... $5.27 Total cost of U.S. Government aside from war debt and pensions per capita of population,............. 2.53 Spirits, beer, etc., per day per person, 4 + cts. All government expenditures 1892 per day per person,................... 1 + cts.
Truly none are wise who permit themselves to be deceived by sin in any of its forms; for the pleasures of sin are brief, ignoble and unsatisfying, and the dregs of the cup are a bitter recompense. [R1631 : page 78]
I. QUAR., LESSON XII., MAR. 25, HEB. 11:1-20.
"Now is Christ risen from the dead." – 1 Cor. 15:20.
The term "Easter" occurs but one place in the Bible (Acts 12:4), where it signifies the passover. There is no precedent in the Scriptures for the Easter festivals which have been celebrated with pomp and ceremony in the Roman and Greek Catholic churches, where, it is said, it was introduced to displace a pagan festival, the only change being in name. But, while avoiding the multiplying of the forms of godliness, whose tendency is to impoverish its spirit, it is quite in place for Christians to reverently and joyfully call to mind the Lord's resurrection on its anniversary. The birth, death and resurrection of our Lord are the three circumstances of his first advent which should be remembered by every child of God with reverent thanksgiving and praise. His birth was the dawn of hope for our race, as Simeon said, "Now...mine eyes have seen thy salvation;" his death was the seal of pardon and peace to every believer in his precious blood; and his resurrection was the assurance which God gave to all [R1631 : page 79] men of the efficacy of his precious blood and of their consequent privilege of sharing the ransom blessing of restitution by faith and obedience.
The resurrection of Jesus is the guarantee of God's expressed purpose to restore to life and to all the blessings of his favor all of the human race who come unto God by him. And it is in view of this fact, that God declares himself the God of the living, and not of the dead, for they all live unto him (Luke 20:37,38) – in his purpose. And, because of this also, our Lord spoke of death as a sleep, – in view of the awakening in the morning of the resurrection.
Death implies extinction; for if once condemned by God as unworthy of life, there being no chance for reform or change in death ("In death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks!") it follows that there could be no hope in death. But what man could not do for himself God has done for him through Christ, – He has redeemed man from the death sentence and provided for the reawakening of all. Therefore God does not think of us as dead (annihilated), but as sleeping until the Millennial morning.
It is interesting to note with what carefulness the important facts of the death and resurrection of the Lord are noted in the Scriptures: that so our faith and hope might be firmly established; for, said the Apostle, "If Christ be not risen, your hope is vain." The precautions, too, were taken not by the Lord's friends, but by his enemies. – Matt. 27:62-66; John 19:34,35.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – For many years I have been familiar with your name and with the title, MILLENNIAL DAWN, and have occasionally met those who have accepted your views of Bible interpretation; but I have never been inclined to look into the teachings you put forth until about a month ago, when some ladies, who were at one time members of a church (undenominational) over which I was pastor, became interested in Brother West's teachings, and wrote to me desiring to know whether I had read MILLENNIAL DAWN, and what I thought of the same, finally sending me VOL. I. I took it up to read, that I might know under what influence my friends had fallen. I became so much interested that I have spent all my spare time (often until midnight) reading, with my different translations of the Bible before me, comparing each of your references with the Book, etc. I have now finished VOL. III., and wish to express to you my appreciation of the truth you have brought to light. While I do not see eye to eye with you in every minute detail, I can sincerely say that I have never before seen the beauty and harmony of the Word brought out in such clear and satisfying order. Many of the thoughts you bring out have been shown me by the Spirit; but what I most appreciate in your book is the clear and orderly arrangement of those things of which I have had glimpses.
Two great truths which you bring out are – in the way you handle them – entirely new to me; viz., First, Restitution in the Millennial age. I have clearly seen that "old School" teachings limited the ransom of Jesus Christ, but never until now have I seen restitution presented in what seemed to me a Scriptural and logical manner. I am filled with great joy, as I now contemplate this precious truth. God's plan is certainly much larger than theology (?).
The second great truth greatly surprises me: that Christ has come is a most astonishing statement. I cannot yet fully take it in. For years I have fully believed, taught and preached his coming in person; but I have always thought it would be in the flesh; although I have believed that only the Bride would know. But now I admit the truth you advance: that his coming must be as a Spirit being. Is not that included in the divine order – first the natural, then the spiritual? My earnest cry has been, "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh!" I believed the time had come for that cry. Is it possible that, instead of that, I am to cry, "Behold the Bridegroom?" I am seeking [R1631 : page 79] light on this one point; for surely, if that be true, there is no time for God's messengers to tarry in the harvest work.
Well, Brother, I thank God for all the truth he has given you to give out to us. I have been preaching the gospel to the best [R1631 : page 80] of my light for seventeen years (I am now almost an old man). For the past year I have not been in active gospel work; but, singularly, just as I have been brought to read your writings, I am asked to go forth again to give out the Word of God. For years I have been out of "Babylon," and of necessity my work must be among the humble and poor, and those who are hungry for the Word. I go where he calls. During the past ten years I have built two chapels and gathered two congregations; but now it seems to me there is time only to call out – not to build and gather. May he, the Lord of the Harvest, guide me, is my earnest prayer.
Yours in the Christ,
MY DEAR SIR: – Two months ago, at a small hotel in a small town of this State, I came across the third volume of your MILLENNIAL DAWN. I did not have time to read it, but was so much interested that I sent for the three volumes. I have just completed the third volume: it has been to me like a shower in a desert. I am thirsty and hungering for more.
For ten years, while living on a homestead, I read my Bible in the Orthodox way, and prayed to and trusted in God; yet something kept me out of the denominations. I was not satisfied to subscribe to any creed. On coming to the city, I resolved to unite with some church and Sunday School, and become an active worker; but, after visiting all of the Protestant denominations, I found so much unchristlike behavior, that I could not join any of them. The past year I have awakened from the indifference into which I had settled, and have been in a small way trying to get at the truth; and now I feel as if I wanted to engage in some way in this harvest work. Please send me all the information you can.
MY DEAR SIR: – I have read with pleasure and delight the first volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN, and would say, it just suits me. These sublime truths are in perfect accord with my conception of the word of the Lord, and thrill my whole being. It fills my soul, puts wings on my feet and energizes every power of my being, as I contemplate the coming glory of the Millennial morning!
I am a local preacher in the M.E. Church, and you can imagine how much I am at home there. For more than twenty years I have been engaged in the temperance work as a lecturer, and have many opportunities of presenting my opinions on these subjects. From childhood I have hated the Romish church (as a system), and I equally abominate the popery of Protestantism. Indeed, our Protestant churches (it seems to me) are rapidly counter-marching Rome-ward. I long for kindred spirits: those who "keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."
Your Plan of the Ages has solved one dark problem: the heathen world. Your teaching on this subject seems in perfect accord with the Scriptures, and I share with you the joy of such a revelation of the divine Word.
These lines, my brother, are not hastily written, for I have read your Plan of the Ages three times during the last four months. I can see the hand of God in the work in which you are engaged. Ever praying for your success in proclaiming the coming Kingdom of our ascended Lord, I remain, Yours in "the faith once delivered to the saints."
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I thank our Father that he, through the instrumentality of his children, ever opened my eyes to the wonderful Plan of the Ages contained in the Scriptures of truth, and unlocked to me by MILLENNIAL DAWN. My aged mother and myself have been for years students of the Word, and lovers of the Lord's appearing, and our minds were prepared to receive the fuller light which the DAWNS shed forth. The Word becomes more and more a source of light and delight; and, as we see more deeply into that wonderful plan, we are amazed at the infinite love, wisdom, power and justice of our God; and yet, we ask, why this amazement? For it is just like God. The trouble was, we have been worshiping something that was not God. May God help each one of his children to be diligent in making the truth and his true character.
If you have any extra copies of TOWER, January 15, I wish you would send one-half dozen, for I wish to send the sermon, "The Future – Social and Religious," to several of my friends. I think it will help to awaken them and to see for themselves that the morning dawns.
Yours, earnestly watching for the morning,
PUBLISHED TWICE A MONTH.
N.B. – Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accidents, or other adversity, are unable to pay, will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
[A Brother who was at one time a prominent Mason, but who has since discontinued his relationship with the Order, believing that he can spend time and money to better advantage as a member of the "Royal Priesthood," sends us the following from the Chicago Inter Ocean of March 7, and adds: – "Every Mason is now in honor bound to remain by the 'Ancient and Honorable Order.' Thank God for his opening, permitting my escape before this. Every Mason who now escapes from this 'bundle' must, in addition to the loss of many agreeable associations, submit to a painful singeing of his honor, so-called, and which will be worse with every day's delay."]
"Beyond doubt Mayor Hopkins intends to cut out every member of the society now in the city's employ. Nothing has been done openly, but the quiet tip has gone around that every Mason may expect his discharge.
"There is danger of offence, danger of apostasy. Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall! Never was it more important that a Christian should be Christlike. Before God, I think that we are to follow our Lord through a dark valley, and to drink a bitter cup. There is a mighty movement toward the consummation of all unbelief and opposition to the Lord's Anointed: a movement long ago forewarned, yet none the less terrible as it sweeps over Christian lands. We see many wise, mighty and learned fascinated with its falsehood, and giving to it the weight of their influence and genius. But we wait – 'how long, O Lord, how long!' – for the day when the lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low, and the Lord alone shall be exalted. For 'I know that my Redeemer liveth; and that I shall stand in the latter day upon the earth; whom I shall see for myself; and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.'" page 82
He has supplied a copy free to all the colporteurs known to desire them and has donated a quantity to the Tract Fund. These we now offer to any who may desire them at fifty cents per copy. The receipts will go to forward the general work.
[R1632 : page 83]
|VOL. XV.||MARCH 15, 1894.||NO. 6.|
WHILE in this our judgment day we find great comfort in this blessed assurance, realizing as we do our own weaknesses and shortcomings and manifold temptations, we call to mind this statement now for another purpose; viz., to remind the members of the elect Church of God, who are to constitute the Royal Priesthood of the new dispensation, that they, like their Lord and Head, must also be touched with the feeling of the world's infirmities, else they would be totally unfit for so exalted and responsible a position.
In the Royal Priesthood of that age the world is to have the same comfort in its priesthood that we in our present infirmities find in Christ. For this cause, chiefly, we apprehend that the priesthood is chosen from among men – that redeemed men who were once in the same plight with all the rest of humanity, being thus exalted to the divine nature with all its power to bless, might also, from their past experience and observations while they were men amongst men, be thereby qualified to be very wise and merciful priests, knowing well how to deal with the poor sin-sick world; and that the world might find comfort and consolation in the realization of such sympathy.
Such being the mission of the Church, in the not far distant future, all who expect to be of its approved membership in glory should now be cultivating a broad and generous sympathy for all their fellows of the "groaning creation" – a sympathy which considers the weaknesses and temptations of fallen men, mental, moral and physical, and which is ready to forgive and help the repentant erring; a sympathy illustrated by the verse –
"A bending staff I would not break,
A feeble faith I would not shake,
Nor even rudely pluck away
The error which some truth may stay,
Whose sudden loss might leave without
A shield against the shafts of doubt."
It is not enough that we know the truth and rejoice in hope of a future personal exaltation: we must not forget the very object of that exaltation – the blessing of all the families of the earth – and the present duty of conformity to the word and example of our Lord, that thus by his Word and Providence he may fit us for the duties and honors to which he has called us. Only by so doing can we make our calling and election sure.
If we turn our eyes to the pattern, we see in our Lord Jesus one who was deeply moved at the sight of human degradation, moral and physical. So must it be with all his followers. We must be in sympathy with every impulse of the world which is toward righteousness and reformation of character and life; we must rejoice at every movement that is made in this direction; and our sympathies should go out toward all who are laboring for the common uplifting as well as for all the oppressed everywhere. And so we trust they do. We sympathize with the temperance work and would not have one abandon the ranks of its laborers, [R1632 : page 84] except to engage in the higher work of this harvest time, to which the elect consecrated sons of God are now specially called. And we say, God bless every truly philanthropic heart and hand that is trying to rescue the unfortunate victims of strong drink. We would have all such go on until the Master, noting their zeal, where it springs from love to him, shall say, "It is enough; come up higher" – to the higher work, the harvesting or gathering together of his elect from the four winds. – Matt. 24:31.
We sympathize also with the social purity movement, which aims at the emancipation of woman and the elevation of man, and which eloquently appeals to the conscience of the present generation for the pre-natal rights of the yet unborn generations of the twentieth century – their right to be well born and bred – with as little of the taint of hereditary evil as the present generation can give. It, however, grapples with an evil so deep-seated that little can be hoped for from it, except the creating of a more healthful sentiment on the part of thoughtful and well disposed people, and a greater realization on the part of many of the giant proportions and exceeding hatefulness of sin.
We sympathize, too, with the demand of another class of reformers for a single standard of virtue for man and woman alike – that public sentiment should be no more lenient toward the sins of men than toward the sins of women; and believe that a single standard of virtue, which would as completely ostracize a guilty man from society as a guilty woman, would be a safeguard to many a young man to whom the path of vice is made, alas! too easy.
We are glad, too, to see the evidences of philanthropy and moral reform in some heathen lands, though we know how necessarily feeble must be the resistance to the mighty waves of corruption against which they battle.
And so with every good work and with every noble sentiment our hearts are and should be in accord; and we rejoice with them over every victory they gain for righteousness and truth, however small, although we are not with them on the same plane of endeavor; for God has given us the higher commission. The priesthood may not despise the Levites, nor even the children of the camp. We rejoice that there are Levites – hewers of wood and drawers of water (See TABERNACLE SHADOWS), and that even in the world's great camp there are some who not only incline to righteousness, but who are bravely endeavoring to stem the overwhelming tide of evil. But we rejoice more in the fact that it will ere long be our privilege to take hold of all these much needed reforms with energy and power and push them forward to glorious success, when in God's due time we shall be endued with power from on high. – Matt. 13:43; Gal. 3:29.
Dearly beloved of the consecrated household, let us not forget to keep in touch with the groaning creation; to sympathize with its sorrows and its woes; to realize its deep degradation and misery; to remember its frailties, its awful burden of hereditary taints and consequent weaknesses; its present environments of ignorance and superstition; and its long established errors of public sentiment; remembering that we too are still in the sinful flesh, and that the motions of sin are still often painfully manifest in us, in some directions at least, if not in many. And as the cries of the groaning creation come up into the ears of the Lord of hosts (Jas. 5:4) with strong and pathetic pleading to his loving heart, so let them come into our ears and gain our sympathies, and quicken our zeal to co-operate with our Heavenly Father's plan for the establishment of his Kingdom of righteousness and peace.
But let us bear in mind that a real pity for the world, a full sympathy with every good work of reform, and an active co-operation with God in the necessary preparation for our great future work, imply also that we have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness and that our lives be a standing rebuke to them. "How," says the Apostle, [R1632 : page 85] "shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?...Our old man [our justified human nature] is crucified with Christ that the body [organization] of Sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve Sin" – nor in any sense recognize Sin as our master. – Rom. 6:2-6.
It should be our constant effort, therefore, to seek to discern the course of righteousness on every question of moral obligation, and to see to it that our conduct, our sympathies and our influence, however small, are on the side of righteousness. In this day of searching judgment it should be observed that every principle of moral obligation is being brought forward for searching examination. One cannot thoughtfully read the daily press without observing this tendency of the times in which we live. No matter how long and firmly established have been the old ideas, nothing can escape this scrutiny. And the principles of righteousness are being boldly set forth – here on one subject, and there on another; and that in defiance of the thundering anathemas from all the old fortresses of sin, iniquity and superstition.
But right and truth must and shall prevail when our Kingdom has been established (Matt. 6:10; Luke 12:32; 22:29), however feeble now may be the voices lifted in their defence. Let our sentiments and our course of action always be noble and pure, and on the right side of every subject that comes forward for ventilation and investigation; for we should be "a peculiar people, zealous of good works." – Titus 2:14.
"IMPECUNIOSITY hangs like a dark and almost universal cloud over the nations of Europe. Times are very bad for the Powers all around, but worst of all for the small ones. There is hardly a nation on the Continent whose balance-sheet for the departed year does not present a gloomy outlook; while many of them are mere confessions of bankruptcy. Our columns have recently contained careful reports upon the financial condition of the various States, and we shall continue the series; but from first to last it has exhibited and will exhibit a struggle in the several exchequers to make two ends meet which has never been so general. The state of things is indeed almost world-wide.
"If we look outside our own Continent, the United States on one hand, and India, Japan, with their neighbors, on the other, have felt the prevalent pinch. The Great Republic is too vast and resourceful to die of her financial maladies; but even she is very sick. Great Britain, too, has a deficit to face in the coming Budget, and has sustained costly, perhaps irreparable, losses by the mad business of the coal strike.
"France, like ourselves and America, is one of the countries which cannot well be imagined insolvent, so rich is her soil and so industrious her people. Her revenue, however, manifests frequent deficits; her national debt has assumed stupendous proportions, and the burden of her Army and Navy well-nigh crushes the industry of the land. Germany must also be written in the category of Powers too solid and too strong to suffer more than temporary eclipse. Yet during the last year it is computed that she has lost £25,000,000 sterling [$125,000,000], which represents about half the national savings. Much of this loss has been due to German investments in the stocks of Portugal, Greece, South America, Mexico, Italy and Servia; while Germany has also sharply felt the confusion in the silver market. An insufficient harvest, scarcity of fodder, the outbreak of the Russo-German Customs War, and the ever-impending dread of cholera have helped to depress her trade, while, of course, the burden of the armed peace weighs upon her people with a crushing load. Among the Powers which we are grouping together as naturally solvent, it is striking to find that Austria-Hungary has the best and happiest account to give. The year 1893 was one of prosperity and progress for the Dual Realm. Her exports showed an increase on the year before of 10½ per cent. Austria managed, before the close of the year, to lock up in her cellars and those of Hungary nearly 350,000,000 guldens in gold; and, though her currency has yet to be reformed, she stands mistress of the situation.
When we turn aside from this great group and cast our eyes on Italy, there is an example of a "Great Power" well-nigh beggared by her greatness. If it were not too Irish, one might almost say that Italy has been ruined by [R1632 : page 86] coming into existence. Year by year her revenue drops – her expenditure increases. The weight of the armaments which she keeps up in accordance with the programme of the Triple Alliance might be better borne if it were not for her recent mad prodigality in useless public works, etc. She must pay £30,000,000 sterling as interest on her public debt, beside a premium for the gold necessary. Her securities are a drug in the market; her prodigious issue of bank-notes has put gold and silver at fancy prices. Her population is plunged in a state of poverty and helplessness almost unimaginable here, and when her new Ministers invent fresh taxes sanguinary riots break out.
As for Russia, her financial statements are shrouded in such mystery that none can speak of them with confidence; but there is little reason to doubt that only the bigness of the Czar's Empire keeps it from becoming bankrupt. The population has been squeezed until almost the last drop of the life-blood of industry is extracted. The most reckless and remorseless Financial Minister scarcely dares to give the screw of taxation another half-turn. "Every copeck which the peasant contrives to earn is spent, not in putting his affairs in order, but in paying up arrears in taxes....The money paid by the peasant population in the guise of taxes amounts to from two-thirds to three-fourths of the gross income of the land, including their own extra work as farm laborers." The apparent good credit of the Government is sustained by artificial means. Close observers look for a crash alike in the social and financial arches of the Empire. Here, too, the stupendous incubus of the armed peace of Europe helps largely to paralyze commerce and agriculture.
Looking the Continent all round, therefore, it cannot be denied that the state of things as regards the welfare of the people and the national balance-sheets is sorely unsatisfactory. Of course, one chief and obvious reason for this is that armed peace which weighs upon Europe like a nightmare, and has turned the whole Continent into a standing camp. Look at Germany alone! That serious and sober Empire! The Army Budget there has risen from £17,500,000 sterling in 1880 to £28,400,000 in 1893. The increase under the new Army Defence Act adds £3,000,000 sterling a year to the colossal mass of Germany's defensive armour. France has strained her strength to the same point of proximate collapse to match her mighty rival. It is needless to point out the terrible part which these war insurances bear in the present popular distress of Europe. Not merely do they abstract from profits and earnings the vast sums which buy powder and [R1633 : page 86] shot and build barracks, but they take from the ranks of industry at the commencement of their manhood millions of young workmen, who are also lost for the same periods to the family.
Nature, and the seasons, and embarrassments about silver and gold are not to blame for the impoverishment of what we call Christendom. The bitter and unchristian spirit of the blood-feud is to blame – the savage instinct of mutual animosity not uprooted yet from the bosom of what we falsely style civilization. The possession of these prodigious means of mutual destruction is a constant temptation to use them, and some day, it is to be feared, the pent-up forces of this war-cloud will burst forth. The world has not yet invented a better clearing-house for its international cheques than the ghastly and costly Temple of War.
"No soldier on service entangleth himself in the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enrolled him as a soldier. And also if a man contend in the games, he is not crowned except he have contended lawfully." "Know ye not that they which run in a race all run, but one receiveth the prize? So run that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep my body under and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." – 2 Tim. 2:4,5; 1 Cor. 9:24-27.
Paul sped along in that race, not in his own strength, but in the strength which God supplied. And the promise of such aid is none the less ours than it was his. The divine grace is imparted to us through the exceeding great and precious promises of God inspiring us with new and glorious hopes beyond the wreck and ruin of the present order of things. Permitting our minds to dwell upon these, we see in the now rapidly approaching dawn of the day of Christ a new heavens and a new earth; and by faith we sit together with Christ in the heavenly places of glory and honor, and together with him are crowned with immortality. By faith we see also the blessed privileges of such an exalted station, and the divinely appointed work in which we will be engaged together with Christ. A weary, groaning creation awaits our ministry of power, and in proportion as we partake of the loving, pitiful spirit of our Master will we be able to appreciate such a privilege. If we are cold and selfish and untouched with the feeling of earth's infirmities; if the woes of our fellow-men awaken in us no feelings of sympathy and of desire to help, we can have no appreciation of the prize of our high calling. But if on the contrary we love our fellow-men as God and Christ loved them; if we pity their weaknesses and, remembering the hereditary cause, lay not all their sins and short-comings to their personal charge, but are anxious to clear their minds from the mists of ignorance and superstition and the biases of prejudices; to help them to more rational modes of thought and action, and to better ideas of life and its relationships and responsibilities; to gather out of their pathway all the stumbling stones whereby so many are now precipitated into a course of vice; to cast up a highway of holiness upon which no lion of intemperance or other evil thing may be found; and to declare to them all the everlasting gospel of their salvation, and to open their deaf ears to hear it and their blind eyes to see the salvation of God – if such are our sympathies toward the world of sinners which God so loved, then we are able to appreciate to some extent the privileges of our high calling, when, as joint-heirs with Christ of his Kingdom and power, we shall be able to put into actual execution all our benevolent desires for the uplifting and healing of our sin-sick world.
If you have ever experienced the joy of converting one sinner from the error of his ways, or of establishing the feet of one of Christ's little ones, then you may have some idea of the joy that will attend the ministry of the saints when they are fully endued with divine power for the great work of their Millennial reign; for they will not be hampered as now, but every effort will be a successful one.
The privilege of such a blessed work, even aside from the precious thought of association with Christ and of our blessed relationship to the Father, is a wonderful inspiration to every benevolent heart, which even now would fain take upon itself the burdens which they see oppressing others whom they love and pity.
But though inspired with such a hope of benevolent service for the whole world in God's appointed time, and of blessed association with Christ in it, we must remember that we have yet to "strive" for the prize of our high calling; and not only so, but we must strive "lawfully." We must run our race, not only with diligence, energy, patience and perseverance, but we must run according to the prescribed rules, as otherwise our labor will be in vain. First of all we must enter into this course by the strait gate – by faith in the precious blood of Christ as our ransom price. If we do not enter by this door, we are not counted in the race for the prize, no matter how zealously we run. This is the first rule for those who would so run as to obtain. "Enter ye in at the strait gate;...because strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
Having so entered, the Apostle now urges that we be filled with the Spirit of Christ, that we may not be led by the desires of the flesh away from God and from the course which he has marked out. Then the body, the human nature, must be kept under the control of the new mind, the spirit of Christ in us. Its ambitions [R1633 : page 88] and hopes and desires must be kept down; and the only way to do this is to keep filled with the spirit. "Walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the desires of the flesh." – Gal. 5:16.
If we are filled with the spirit – with the same mind that was in Christ Jesus – we will act from the same motives: it will be our meat and drink to do the Father's will. We will engage in his work because we love to do it, even aside from the inspiring prize at the end of our course. Christ was so full of sympathy with humanity, and so thoroughly of one mind with the Father, that he could not do otherwise than devote his life to the good of others. Yet in all his labors he strictly observed the divine plan. Though, like the Father, he loved the whole world, he did not go beyond Israel to bless the Gentiles with his ministry, because the appointed time for that work had not yet come.
He observed God's times and seasons and methods. He never recklessly exposed his life until from the prophets he recognized that his hour had come to be delivered into the hands of his enemies. He taught his disciples not to go into the way of the Gentiles until the due time: and then he sent them forth. He did not make long prayers on the street corners to be heard of men, nor exhort the multitudes with noisy harangue; as the prophet indicated, he did not lift up his voice nor cry aloud in the streets. (Isa. 42:2.) He chose God's methods which were rational and wise, and which were effective in selecting out from among men the class which he desired to be heirs of the promised Kingdom. Let those who would so run as to obtain the prize mark these footprints of the Master, and be filled more and more with his spirit.
If so filled with the same mind that was in Christ Jesus, we, like him, will desire to be as free as possible from entangling earthly affairs, and to have our time as free as possible for the Lord's service, and then to devote all energy ability and effort to that service.
To have the mind of Christ is indeed the one requirement of lawful striving – a mind which humbly and faithfully submits itself to the will of God as expressed in his great plan of the ages, and which devotes all energy to the accomplishment of his will because of an intelligent appreciation of the ends he has in view. [R1636 : page 88]
BEHOLD, behold the Bridegroom!
He's in our midst to-day!
O Bride, put on thy jewels,
And all thy fine array!
His saints he now will gather
To crown and glorify;
And bring them to the mansions
Prepared for them on high.
Behold, behold the Bridegroom!
In beauty see your King!
And in triumphant measures
The happy tidings sing.
Awaken those that slumber,
And bid them all arise
To welcome his blest presence
With all the faithful wise.
Behold, behold the Bridegroom!
Oh, ready stand with those
Whose lamps are filled and burning
Before the door shall close!
The nuptial feast is waiting
For these to enter in,
And then the joy, exceeding,
With Love's reign, will begin.
Behold, behold the Bridegroom!
Our fast-days now are o'er;
For in the Bridegroom's presence
We need not hunger more.
We know him in the breaking
Of truth's sustaining bread;
And at the King's own table
Abundantly are fed.
Behold, behold the Bridegroom!
Nor cry, "Lord Jesus, come!"
Lift up your eyes, ye reapers,
And bring the harvest home!
The sowing time is over;
Your night of weeping gone:
Oh, joy, the morning breaketh!
'Tis now Millennial dawn!
THE following was written to a Brother who, having engaged in the Colporteur Work, was discouraged and stopped by being told by some that his work was doing harm – disintegrating churches, arousing questions disconcerting to ministers, etc., and that in some cases some who believed seemed if anything more careless than ever of religious matters. The Brother stopped his labors, and then wrote to us explaining his course.
However, after writing to us and before our reply reached him, he sat down to re-study the DAWN, and not only convinced himself of its Scripturalness, but got his zeal again enkindled, wrote to us accordingly and resumed his labors as a Colporteur. We publish the letter now in hope that it may benefit others who may be similarly beset by the Adversary.
Dear Brother: – Your letter, just at hand, was, as you surmised it would be, a complete surprise. I knew that the Enemy had tempted you severely on the other side of the question – to believe in universal, everlasting salvation – but I had not supposed you in any danger from the quarter from whence your besetment has so quickly come.
Again, as I sometimes wonder why those who go into Universalism and begin to think they believe it, do not see first what CAN BE SAID AGAINST THAT VIEW, before they jump at an immature conclusion and do injury to others, as well as to themselves, so now I wonder in your case. Would it not have been better to have stopped work for a week: to have written me candidly of your perplexity and asked a reply – if one could be given – to your objections? I believe that you will agree that such would have been a better course.
Even now, you do not ask, nor even hint, your willingness to consider what can be said upon the other side of this question. And modesty, and a dislike to intrude where not invited, naturally cause me to hesitate in offering counsel not sought. But I banish this; and, considering myself merely as the Lord's servant and as your brother (and as to some extent my brother's keeper, whether he ask aid or not), I will now proceed as though you had asked my assistance, or the Lord's aid through me, in the answer of your perplexities, as follows: –
How anyone can read MILLENNIAL DAWN, and reach the conclusion that it favors the everlasting salvation of all mankind, is more than I can comprehend. It does point out a universal redemption from the curse (Rom. 5:19; 1 Tim. 2:4-6); but, with equal clearness, it points out that this redemption merely secures, to all under the New Covenant, an opportunity for attesting their love of righteousness and its peaceable fruits, and their hatred of sin and its baneful results. It shows that as a ransom was necessary to man's recovery from the Adamic condemnation, so, if all or any were tried and individually found unworthy of life, it would require another ransom for each one before he could be restored or tried again, and that God has made no such provision, but calls the second death "everlasting destruction."
It is not surprising, either, that, when the two-edged sword of truth enters, it creates a division. This is one evidence that we are now in the harvest, and that this truth is the harvest sickle. So it was at the first advent. Wherever our Lord and the apostles and their message went, there was a division of the people concerning him: so much so, that in one place "they entreated him that he would depart out of their coasts." (Matt. 8:34; Mark 1:24; Acts 13:50.) What did our Lord do, – change his gospel to suit them? No: he continued his work, until the whole city was in an uproar and the order-loving scribes and Pharisees had him executed, saying that it was expedient that one die for the (good of) the people, that all might not perish. – John 11:49-53.
Wherever the truth goes it has such an effect. The heathen nations all claim that it disturbs the spirit of their devotions and distracts the [R1633 : page 90] reverence formerly paid to Brahm and Buddha. The effect was the same in the days of the apostles (Acts 13:50.) Paul and Barnabas were arrested for disturbing the peace and unsettling the minds of those who worshiped the goddess Diana; and "the whole city was in an uproar." (Acts 19:40; 20:1; 21:31.) But the apostles, instead of wavering and stopping, went right along and preached the same gospel which made a disturbance everywhere. It became so notorious, that the knowledge of it spread from city to city, in times when they had neither mail routes nor telegraph lines; so that it was declared at Thessalonica, "These who have turned the world upside down are come hither also." – Acts 17:5,6.
The difference between now and formerly is that then some were in the formalism of Phariseeism and the bondage of the law, others under the bondage of philosophy, and some others to Dianaism, and like fallacies; while now, some are deluded by Roman Catholicism, some by Universalism, some by Unitarianism, some by Methodism, some by Presbyterianism, and some by Know-nothing-ism. Like children, some asleep and some at innocent play, it seems perhaps at first a pity to disturb them, even to give them God's message. But as sleep must be disturbed and plays broken, in order to prepare the children for school, so the various groups of larger children (Presbyterian, Methodist, Roman Catholic, etc.) must now be awakened, called from present diversions and prepared for the great examination that is to come to all in this evil day. (1 Pet. 4:12.) What if it does cause a commotion as with the children, showing some to be bad-mannered, others disobedient and wilful. It is, nevertheless, the right and only thing to do, if we are guided by the Word of the Lord. They that can interest and awe each other with accounts of their dreams and nightmares, may be vexed beyond measure by the telling of the simple truth of God's gospel; but the Lord nevertheless says – "The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; but he that hath my Word let him speak [only] my Word faithfully." (Jer. 23:28.) Blessed those faithful servants whom the Lord, at his arrival, shall find so doing – giving the meat which is in due season to the household of faith.
As it was in the days of the apostles, so it is now: some held by fear are moderate, and outwardly may have a form of godliness, who, when the shackles of fear are removed, manifest their real preference to be for sin and its fruits, rather than for righteousness, peace and joy in the holy spirit. We regret this; so did the apostles regret this side of the question in their day; saying, "We beseech you that you receive not the grace of God in vain." (2 Cor. 6:1.) But did they stop preaching because they found that some were disposed to take advantage of God's mercy and goodness to continue in sin? Surely not: they declared that they knew beforehand that such would be the effect of the truth – to some it would become "a savor of life unto life [everlastingly]," and to others "a savor of death unto death [everlasting]." They felt their insufficiency for such responsibility as this implied, but concluded that their sufficiency rested in God, who had qualified them as ministers and sent them forth.
So now, when we learn that any become careless or plunge into sin, after learning that God is love, and that he will not torment sinners to all eternity, but that evil-doers shall be cut off, and that provision has been made for the recovery of all who will return to God in penitence, we regret it and feel as the Apostle expressed himself of some in his day: It had been better that they had not known the way of righteousness, than that, after having learned it, they should sin, and, like the sow, return to their wallowing in the mire. (2 Pet. 2:21,22.) But this should not hinder us from preaching the truth; for, like the apostles, we are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, but realize it to be the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. We know how it has sanctified our hearts, as fear or error or nothing else ever did. We know of many others to whom it has been [R1634 : page 90] God's power to lift them out of Infidelity and [R1634 : page 91] sin into faith and righteousness, when nothing else could have so helped them.
Then, too, we remember that this is the time for thrusting in the sickle and separating the wheat from the tares. If some we had supposed wheat prove to be tares, when brought to the test which God now sends, that is no fault of ours. The sickle we use is his sickle – his truth. He is responsible, and will see that all the wheat is gathered into the garner, and that none of the multitude of tares get there, even though we, mistaking them for wheat, should feel for a time disappointed. The truth is testing and proving what we are – wheat or tares.
God seeketh not always what man seeketh. God seeketh only such as worship him in the spirit of the truth; and seeketh not, and will not have, amongst his elect, such as merely worship him in error under the bondage of fear. He is now testing his people.
We have seen that the effect of the truth in the hands of the Lord and the apostles was the same as it is now – to make division, and to prove unworthy those who received it in vain – whose lives were not thereby brought more into harmony with God. Why has it not been so down through the Gospel age? How was it that for a long time there was so much unity and peace, until the Reformation period? and how is it that of late years there has been so much peace in the nominal church?
We answer: because the church about the second century began to lose the truth, and took instead much error. Therefore the fear and superstition brought quiet submission to the error, and permitted her to slumber and divert herself with forms, etc., during the period known in history as "the dark ages." But just as soon as the Word of God began to be heard again, in the days of the Reformation, the trouble and division began. And it continued until the doctrines of the Scriptures began to be lost sight of again in unions and harmonies based upon the errors of men, – fear, etc.
But now the Millennial morning is here, and all must be awaked; for a great and dark hour (a night) of unbelief approaches, in which all will be tested. If some on being awakened receive the grace of God in vain, we cannot stop for them. They would reach the same results later on anyway. We must awaken and enthuse the real saints of God, whom we are commissioned to "seal in their foreheads" and "gather unto him," out of sectarian bondage and error, from the four quarters of heaven.
Very truly, your brother and servant,
II. QUAR., LESSON I., APRIL 1, GEN. 32:9-12,24-30.
The journey of Jacob back to the land of his nativity and to the presence of a presumably hostile brother, now wealthy and powerful, and from whose face he had fled for his life some twenty or perhaps forty years previous, was another evidence of his faith in God and of his respect for, and valuation of, the promises of God, whose fulfilment could be expected only in a far distant future, between which and the present the Jordan of death rolled. Like Abraham, he looked for a city whose builder and maker is God – the New Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God on earth. He knew that Abraham had died in faith not having realized the promises, and he was willing to likewise patiently wait.
This return from Padan-aram to the land of Canaan, the land of promise, can by no means be considered the fulfilment of the promise of possession of the land, the whole land of Canaan, for himself and his posterity for an everlasting possession, as some teach. And that Jacob did not so regard [R1634 : page 92] it is very manifest from his message to Esau on coming into the land – "And he commanded them [his servants] saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau, Thy servant Jacob saith thus, etc." (Gen. 32:3,4.) To such a claim the Apostle Paul gives most emphatic denial, and shows that this promise never was fulfilled to them; nor has it even yet been fulfilled to their posterity, though it most assuredly will be, both to them, and to their posterity, at the time appointed. Paul says "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed....By faith he sojourned [moved about, not settling down as an owner] in the land of promise as in a strange country, dwelling in tents [temporary, movable dwellings] with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he looked for a city [an established Kingdom] which hath foundations [permanence], whose builder and maker is God....These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but, having seen them afar off, were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." – Heb. 11:9,10,13.
After forty years' absence from home, Jacob was ready at the Lord's command (Gen. 31:3,11-13; 28:15,20,21; 32:9) to return. Experience had taught him confidence in God and lack of confidence in his uncle Laban. Jacob was now ninety-seven years old, and rich in flocks and herds; and with his wives and twelve sons he started on the then long journey of four hundred and fifty miles, humanly fearful of the consequences, yet, notwithstanding his fears, boldly walking out on the promises of God.
VERSES 9-12. This is the first recorded prayer in the Bible, and it is beautifully humble, simple and trustful, and was acceptable to God. Verse 9 is a reverent and trustful address to the God of his fathers, Abraham and Isaac, recalling the divine command and promise of protection. (31:3,11-13.) Verse 10 disclaims any personal worthiness of this divine favor, not only of present protection and care, but also of "the truth," the precious promises granted unto him. Then he thankfully acknowledges the blessings already received. While with his staff only he had passed over the Jordan, now he had become two bands. This much in fulfilment of the promise of a numerous posterity – "as the sand of the sea-shore."
VERSES 11,12 tell the Lord of his fears of his brother, and ask for the promised protection. Thus with childlike simplicity he comes to God as to a loving father.
VERSES 24-28. In answer to Jacob's fervent, trustful prayer God sent an angel, evidently to comfort and direct him. But Jacob was anxious for more than comfort and direction in mere temporal things, and all night therefore he pleaded with the angel for some special evidence of divine favor beyond temporal things. The angel, too, had a blessing in store for him, but delayed its bestowal until the break of day, that Jacob might have a chance of proving the strength of his desire and appreciation of the divine favor. Thus God would have all his children "strive to enter in" to the blessings promised, and to "fight the good fight of faith," and so lay hold on eternal life. We may not listlessly drift into the divine favor. We must greatly appreciate and earnestly seek for it. As another test of Jacob's faith and earnestness, instead of the desired blessing came a severe affliction – probably what is now known as sciatica, a most painful affliction of the sciatic nerve. But even this affliction did not in the least dissuade Jacob from his desire and determination to have, if possible, some special evidence of divine favor. Still he plead with the angel of the Lord.
And the angel said, "Let me go, for the day breaketh." And Jacob answered, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." Then came the blessing, a blessing worthy of the night's striving, and one which doubtless made his affliction seem comparatively light. Like Paul's thorn in the flesh, the affliction became but a reminder of the promise and favor of God, and served doubtless to keep him from being unduly elated.
"And the angel saith unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed."
In these words was couched the future glory and exaltation of Jacob as a prince in the earthly, visible phase of the Kingdom of God. "Ye shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of God." (Luke 13:28; Matt. 8:11. See also Psa. 45:16 and MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., Chapter xiv.) Jacob was satisfied. And now, but one [R1634 : page 93] more thing he would ask – Was it for relief from his affliction? No; but he would know the name of his benefactor, this messenger of the Lord, that he might hold him in lasting and grateful remembrance. "And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?" He would have Jacob understand that the blessing was from God, whose messenger he was, and therefore he did not tell his name. The case is parallel to that of Manoah and the angel that visited him: "And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass I may do thee honor? And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?" Thus the true messengers of God always [R1635 : page 93] seek to give the honor unto God, and decline it for themselves. – See Rev. 19:10; John 14:28; Acts 3:12.
Thus Jacob was blessed again as at Bethel. The darkest seasons of his life were the special occasions for the manifestation of divine favor. And so the children of God ever find it when in their fears and perplexities they come to God for rest and consolation.
"E'en sorrow, touched by heaven, grows bright
With more than rapture's ray,
As darkness shows us worlds of light
We never saw by day."
VERSE 30. "And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel; for [said he] I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." Here and in other instances the Hebrew word rendered God is elohim, meaning mighty one – a representative of God. "No man hath seen God at any time." – John 1:18. [R1635 : page 93]
II. QUAR., LESSON II., APRIL 8, GEN. 37:1-11.
The slow rate at which the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob of a numerous posterity were being fulfilled is quite noteworthy here. It was now two centuries since Abraham was called, and yet his posterity were but few. Jacob was now one hundred and nine years old, and had but twelve sons and one daughter. But they were well-born children, desired and welcomed, and considered gifts of God (Gen. 29:32-35; 30:6-13,17-24), – and they were taught to reverence God and his promises. Yet over against these good influences were others less favorable – (1) The conditions of a polygamous home, with four sets of children, were not those which tend to peace and harmony and love in the family. Such a home was not after God's institution, but, as the Apostle Paul intimates, "the times of this ignorance God winked at." (See our issue of Nov. 1, '92; Article, The Law of God.) (2) They came in contact with an immoral heathen community, both in Haran and in Shechem. (3) And their shepherd life, caring for large flocks and herds which must necessarily be widely scattered, separated them from home and gave them much leisure for either good or evil.
The experience of Joseph here introduced was the beginning of a train of providential circumstances which gave to the children of Israel the very necessary experience in Egypt in contact with the highest civilization and learning the world had then realized. There they remained under peculiar circumstances of discipline and training for four hundred years; and there as a people they learned to some extent the important lesson of humility and faith in the love and power of God.
Joseph, a bright boy of seventeen and the special favorite of his father because he was a son of his old age and a very exemplary son, seemed to incur the displeasure of his brethren through envy on their part and guilelessness on his own. The elder brethren, instead of sharing the father's love for their young and promising brother, were envious of him and could not speak peaceably to him. Joseph was innocent and unaware of the malice that their envy was fast engendering, and was shocked at what he did see and know of their misconduct, and very naturally reported the state of affairs to his father on his return home.
Then, too, in his artlessness he told them his very significant dreams, which he probably did not understand, but which they interpreted as an indication of his future supremacy; and this, together with their knowledge of his father's special favor, probably made them fear a future supremacy, which idea they could not endure. Hence the plot to get him out of the way. Envy and hatred fast matured their bitter fruitage of a murderous spirit and intent. While God permitted all the sons of Jacob to thus manifest their disposition, he stood ready to overrule their course of conduct for the furtherance of his purposes. Thus [R1635 : page 94] the overruling providence of God is always compatible with man's free agency.
The coat of many colors – a royal garment – which Jacob gave to Joseph, probably was also interpreted by the brethren as an indication of the father's purpose to bestow the chief blessing on him, the eldest son of the second wife, since Reuben, the eldest son of the first wife, had already forfeited it. – Gen. 49:4.
The dreams of Joseph were quite prophetic of his later supremacy in Egypt, when his father and brethren all came in the extremity of famine to do him honor and to receive of his bounty. Doubtless also the impression they made on his mind by them proved a source of comfort and cheer in the midst of severe trials and temptations in Egypt, before he was summoned to the seat of power and influence.
The envy of Joseph's brethren, although eventually overruled in harmony with God's promise to Abraham, brought upon them severe experiences and bitterness. Envy is one of the indigenous fruits of the fallen nature: itself bad, it is almost sure to lead to every evil work; and, unless corrected, it will eventuate in death.
DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST: – I will enclose an order for a few tracts. I do not come in contact with many people, but I want to have the "bread" on hand, when I do meet some who are starving for God's righteous plan, even when they do not know what they need. I often wish I could engage in the Lord's work more actively; but at present I am cut off from so doing in many ways, though since the new year dawned I have been trying to find more opportunities, also to appreciate those I have. I believe it is possible to neglect the privileges within our reach, by looking out to those which lie beyond our environment.
No one need conclude he is without opportunities. All have the privilege daily in their respective families, and among acquaintances, to endeavor to fill their mission as representatives of Christ's Kingdom, holding up the divine standard of justice, love, etc., to the best of their ability, by the grace so freely given. Individual development, spiritually, is so necessary, that we may not be "castaways" from the prize.
One way of spreading the truth, which I appreciate more fully now, is by means of the Missionary Envelopes. If the knowledge of God is to overthrow all error, the slightest means to that end should be used, that individually we should do all we can toward filling the earth with the truth, "as the waters cover the sea;" hence I feel there is power in the message on the Missionary Envelopes, and I am thankful for the privilege of using them. The "Good Hopes" fund is another blessed privilege, and although I can do so little toward that fund, I rejoice to know the "mite" is acceptable, if prompted by a willing spirit.
The privilege of tract distribution; also of writing to some dear saint, thereby ministering to the body of Christ; in fact, so many privileges of building each other up in the most holy faith, present themselves to the mind of the thoughtful and watchful, that no one need be without work in this harvest time. I believe if we use the given opportunities, others will be presented to us.
The answer to "Representative or Substitute" elucidated the doctrine of justification satisfactorily. The robe of Christ's righteousness grows lovelier and more precious daily to those who prize it. It is invaluable to the saints, for in no other garb would they be acceptable as kings and priests to our Father. May we continue to guard it carefully from fleshly stains, as we by grace strive toward actual righteousness.
Yours in our Redeemer,
Some weeks ago an article appeared in the Winnipeg Tribune, headed "Hell," and giving an imaginary description of a place of torment. I wrote a letter to the paper, giving the real meaning of the word, and saying I would be glad to correspond with any person who wished to look into the subject. The Tribune published my letter, and I have already heard from seven [R1635 : page 95] people. To each one I sent a copy of the "Hell" number of the TOWER and "The Hope of the Groaning Creation," together with a very few words of explanation of the ransom and advising the parties about the DAWNS.
With loving remembrances, yours in the brotherhood of Christ,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – To-day's papers furnish a report of a Dr. Stebbins' discourse yesterday, in which he descants upon the Scriptures as being the unreliable and uninspired utterances and writings of fallible and ignorant men. To what straits a so-called "Minister of the Gospel" must be reduced, when, failing comprehension, his only alternative is to discredit and denounce the blessed Word of God; and how it makes one burn with indignation to know with what baleful influence such blasphemous mouthings are fraught, and that they are accepted as the utterances of a "learned" (?) and devout man, instead of what they really are, the vain and pompous frothings, and merely sensational statements, of a hireling shepherd, a blind leader of the blind.
The more I read the DAWNS, the more am I interested, and the more am I impressed with their wonderful unfolding of the truth and of the hitherto hidden mysteries of the sacred Scriptures. I shall rejoice when the succeeding volume is announced.
Yours in fellowship and faith,
I am thankful to be able to tell you that the good work of truth is yielding some fruits in this place; but we find a merely mental reception of truth to be only a partial work. For satisfactory results we find consecration the important feature. Wishing all co-workers in this grand harvest work God-speed, I remain,
Yours in the blessed hope,
Eight months ago I was in the "hedges;" but the Master rubbed "clay" on my eyes, and gave me no rest until I went and washed in "Siloam;" since which I have been gaining eyesight very fast, for which I never cease to praise the Lord. The Bible now looks so plain, that it seems that a blind man ought to understand it, but the trouble seems to be that they will not take the trouble to examine the matter. Oh! If poor, fallen humanity only knew the blessings in store for them, how quickly they would flee from the wrath to come.
Some time ago I wrote you about my brother-in-law, to whom I had been talking in regard to DAWN; also about a man who had killed several men for revenge. Here is the latest from them: "Am studying all the time I have,...my faith in the Bible getting stronger all the time.... Mr. P. Says it (DAWN) is the grandest book he ever read. Have loaned him the second volume."
Yours in the Lord,
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL: – We are daily feasting our souls on the Word and by communion with our Head and Redeemer, and have been much encouraged by finding several to whom we sold DAWNS several years ago gradually coming into the truth.
I wish to tell you of one brother in particular. Two months after selling him DAWN, I stopped at his house. Said he, Are not you the man who sold me the DAWNS? I replied, "Yes sir." "Well," said he, "I am happy in the love of Jesus, and I am trying to live a fully consecrated life. When I got that book, I was an infidel. My parents were infidels and I had been taught infidelity all my life. If it had not been for DAWNS and like helps, I would have been one still."
Wife and daughter join me heartily in sending love to you. We daily pray for you both and for each colporteur. We have very little Christian fellowship except page 96 at home; but, thank God, we have sweet fellowship here. Pray for us. Yours in the bonds of the Gospel, and in loyalty to our Head,
DEAREST FRIENDS: – While working my "trick" one day last week, I overheard a conversation at the wire between two of our operators in regard to some books they were exchanging and reading. When they got through, I asked who it was, among our operators, that was such a philosopher. One replied, Here I am. I asked his name, told him I had been a student of your publications for some years and found them just what suited me, and said if he had no objections I would like to have him read a volume of your works.
Enclosed please find a letter I received from him after reading VOL. I. It gave me such unspeakable joy to receive, as it were, from the dear Savior's own hand confirmation of his appreciation of my little service in the harvest. I am not relating you this for vain-glory or any praise; but that you, too, may share in the joy of the fact that the work is appreciated when received into good, honest hearts.
In reply to the request for more on the subject and to allow the agent's wife to read the book, I sent him some tracts and an old TOWER and referred him to you. May the Lord give it increase as it pleaseth him, and give those who are actively engaged in the "harvest" the needed encouragement to press on.
Yours in Him,
FRIEND: – I received the book, and am more than pleased with it. Never took any "notion" to such kind of works until now. I think you have opened my eyes, so I can see better. You need not be afraid you have offended me, not in the least. When I first received the volume I thought, "How absurd;" but after looking it over I changed my opinion somewhat. Now I can thank you for changing my course. I have read this through. Have you any objections to the agent's wife reading it? She said she would like to read it. I am afraid I cannot send you any books that you would care to read. I have given up reading this "silly stuff."
Yours very truly,
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL: – I recently sent a letter to the First Congregational Church of S__________ (of which I was so long a member), addressed to the pastor. I have a reply from him, in which he says, "Your candor in not wishing to remain where your membership would misrepresent you does you honor. Nor shall we fail to appreciate the sentiments of Christian sympathy and of love for all of God's children which pervade your letter. I am sure the church would not do such violence to its [R1636 : page 96] love for one of the disciples of our Lord as to drop your name, leaving the record to be interpreted by those who, not knowing the cause, might infer excommunication." He then adds, "With your consent, therefore, I shall recommend the granting of a letter in which your reasons shall be fully stated, and in which we will state that while differing from your views we still retain you as a child of God, a disciple of our common Lord."
I have talked with Brother F__________ about it, and he thinks it will be right for me to receive a letter under those conditions. What do you think? I made use of the letter you published in the TOWER [Sept. '93], with some changes to suit the circumstances, and I am very grateful to you for the help it was to me.
Please see that my TOWERS are sent regularly. I miss them so much, if they do not come on time; for their contents are such a rich feast. Praise the Lord for meat in due season for hungry souls! May God spare you both to feed his flock until the fulness of his time has come.
Yours in Christ,
[In reply: We congratulate you, dear Sister, upon your action here related. We advise that you accept the proffered Letter. The minister's letter certainly shows an excellent spirit. Such a man should be ripe for present truth. Be sure that you at least offer him some reading matter bearing thereon. Perhaps he would accept as a loan or as a gift the first volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN? The Sept. '93, and Jan. 15, '94, TOWERS would also be good for him.