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|VOL. XV.||SEPTEMBER 1, 1894.||NO. 17.|
"If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." – Gal. 3:29.
Neither does he say – "If ye be Anglo-Israelites." He knew nothing about such kinship according to the flesh having anything whatever to do with a joint-heirship in the promise. Quite to the contrary indeed: for under divine inspiration he tells us –
"Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant [only] shall be saved [from their blindness predicted.]" "For they stumbled at that stumbling stone;" and "the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to the righteousness which is by faith." "I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ [if by losing this joint-heirship myself I might gain it] for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites." – Rom. 9:27,32,30,2-4.
Still discussing the blindness of Israel and their fall from divine favor, which opened the door of favor to the Gentiles, the Apostle assures us that the vessels of God's mercy prepared unto glory are "us whom he hath called, not of Jews only, but also of the Gentiles." (Rom. 9:23,24.) "Israel [as a nation, the twelve tribes] hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." – Rom. 11:7.
Keeping up the same discussion he asks, "Have they [the fleshly seed] stumbled that they should fall [utterly]?" He answers, "God forbid: but rather that through their fall [as the natural seed to which the promise first was made] salvation is come to the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy." And it has had, and will yet more have, this effect. Since the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles, Israel no longer goes after Baal, Moloch and other idolatries. That people seem to be growing more and more jealous of Christianity, and are now claiming and quoting Jesus as a Jew, as shown in our issue of Apr. 15, page 114, and June 11, page 162.
Thus "the fall of them [is] the riches of the world; and the diminishing of them [the selecting of only a few, a remnant from them results in] the enriching of the Gentiles [proportionately – Gal. 3:14.] And if the cutting off of that people resulted in such blessing to others, how much greater blessings may we expect as a result of Israel's ultimate full regathering to God as a result of the jealousy? (Rom. 11:12.) Blindness in part [temporary blindness] has happened unto Israel [ – except the remnant which accepted Christ; and that blindness will last] until the fulness of [the completeness of the [R1696 : page 276] elect Church, selected from] the Gentiles be come in. And so [thus or then] all Israel shall be saved [from the blindness which happened to them eighteen centuries ago]: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer [Christ, the head, and his Church, the body], and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel after the flesh]. For this is my covenant [agreement] with them when I shall take away their sins." – Verses 25-27.
Satisfied that the Apostle did not in our text refer to all Israel that stumbled and that is to be saved from blindness by and by, nor to their children according to the flesh, lost or found, we settle it in our minds that the Apostle meant the words of our text to apply to consecrated believers in Christ, only; for whether Jew or Gentile, bond or free, all who are in Christ Jesus are one; joint-heirs of the promise made to Abraham. – Rom. 10:12; Gal. 3:28.
But notice, again, very particularly, the words of our text. The Apostle begins the statement with that small but very significant word, if: "If ye be Christ's." It was not sufficient to [R1697 : page 276] be known as a regular attendant of one of the congregations of believers in Galatia – a brother in good standing with fellow Christians and of good moral character. Nor did it avail anything that the great Apostle Paul recognized those congregations of believers in Galatia as "brethren" and "sons of God." (Gal. 3:15,26; 4:6,12,31; 5:11,13; 6:1,18.) Notwithstanding all this, the inspired writer says, "if."
To "be Christ's," therefore, evidently means a great deal more than faith, respectability and good endorsement. It means to belong to Christ; – to be his, body, soul and spirit; – to be his to-day and forever; his servant, to do his will in his way and at his time; when convenient and pleasurable, and when inconvenient, painful and difficult.
It means, furthermore, that we cannot belong to anyone else in this complete sense, for no man can serve two masters. Here comes in a difficulty for those who belong to secret or other Societies. The laws, professions and customs of these are almost certain to conflict with or infringe upon a full consecration to Christ. They profess some things which Christ condemns, and if we would speak as his oracles we would offend. Their laws and customs are worldly, or at least conformed to this world, and our Master has laid down as his law that we be not conformed to this world, but that we be "transformed by the renewing of our minds – proving [ascertaining] the good and acceptable and perfect will of God." These Societies inculcate the wisdom of pleasing the world: our Master tells all that are his, "Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of this world." "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." In a word he says to us, "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve." "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon."
These observations apply as truly to religious societies, churches, etc., as to others: indeed, more so, because the latter affect to represent Christ and to speak for him, which, surely, they have no right or authority to do; for our Master still speaks to those that are his through the Gospels and the words of his inspired Twelve Apostles. See article on "The Twelve Apostles," in TOWER, May 1, '93, p.131.
Almost all denominations have formulated Confessions of Faith to which all who belong to them either directly or indirectly give assent. And these uniformly conflict with the doctrines of Christ. They demand consecrated time and money, as well as name and influence, for these, which are false doctrines, and hence in opposition to Christ's doctrines. If we "be Christ's" only and fully, we cannot compromise with the world, nor with its policy and spirit amongst Christ's disciples. Not to compromisers, but to "overcomers," Christ's very own, is given the promise of a share with him in his throne as fellow-members of the Seed of Abraham and heirs according to that promise or covenant.
Finally, and most important of all, the Christian must learn that, "if he be Christ's" servant and disciple, he is not his own; – not his servant to do his own will in his own way and time, nor his own teacher to make his own theology and code of laws and philosophies. He is simply a disciple or pupil in the School of Christ, under instruction upon every subject; – he is a know-nothing, a fool, according to the [R1697 : page 277] wisdom of this world, in order that he may gain the true, heavenly wisdom. He is to be emptied of self in every sense, that he may "be Christ's" completely – dead to self, and alive toward God through Jesus Christ, his Lord.
Few such? Ah! yes; and this the Master foretold us, saying, "Fear not, little flock, it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom."
"Not my own, but saved by Jesus,
Who redeemed me by his blood,
Gladly I accept the message;
I belong to Christ, the Lord.
"Not my own! to Christ, my Savior,
I, believing, trust my soul;
Everything to him committed,
While eternal ages roll.
"Not my own! my time, my talent,
Freely all to Christ I bring,
To be used in joyful service
For the glory of my King.
"Not my own! Oh, not my own!
Jesus, I belong to thee!
All I have and all I hope for,
Thine for all eternity."
The promise made to Abraham was the first distinct statement of the Gospel of which we have any record. It reads, "In thee and thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." This was good tidings to Abraham, as it would be indeed to all who have generous, godlike hearts; and hence the Apostle says that "God preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, 'In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.'"
This gospel is still beforehand, in the sense that all the families of the earth have not yet been blest; but it may be said to be a present gospel to the few who now have "ears to hear," – to appreciate it.
To hear it fully and clearly is to appreciate the fact that a Millennium of blessing was provided for by the death of Christ as man's ransom or substitute, and that consequently a blessing is to come to all the families of the earth. This blessing will consist of a full opportunity to know God and to come into harmony with him under the conditions of the New Covenant (sealed with the precious blood), and thus to have everlasting life.
To those who appreciate this gospel, and who thus judge that if one died for all, then were all dead [legally], and that we who live [through Christ's promise and work] should not henceforth live unto ourselves, but unto him who loved us and died for us; – to these the Lord makes known the exceeding riches of his grace, and offers a share with him in that work of blessing all the families of the earth, because they appreciate his work. And the further they go in obedience, self-denial and self-sacrifice in his service, the more he communicates of his gracious, loving plan, whose lengths and breadths and heights and depths are far beyond the comprehension of the natural man; but God reveals them by his spirit to those who are "Christ's." – 2 Cor. 5:14,15; 1 Cor. 2:9,10.
THAT monstrous doctrine of "eternal torment," a blasphemy on the name and character of Jehovah God, has led God's people to some very illogical conclusions on other subjects as well; amongst others, to the view that whoever becomes a true child of God can never become a "castaway" from divine favor. Thus does Satan use the fear of torment to hinder love to God, while he operates reversely, through the same fear, upon the minds of the same people to make them feel secure and careless, though they so dread God that true love is impossible.
The human mind is so constituted that it can by sophistry or false reasoning convince itself of error: hence the only safe position for any of us is to have absolutely no will or preference of our own, and thus to come to the Word of God free from all prejudice, intent simply upon knowing his will and plan: otherwise we are in constant danger of deceiving ourselves into whatever view we prefer; for "the heart is deceitful above all things." [R1697 : page 278]
Of course the Scriptures are appealed to as proof of this theory, that all are forever safe and sure of heaven who have been begotten of the spirit of truth. Hence we should examine carefully the Scriptures bearing upon this question, that we be not deceived. We read: –
(1) "Whosoever is born [begotten] of God doth not commit sin; for [or because] his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born [begotten] of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother." – 1 John 3:9,10.
(2) "Whosoever is born [begotten] of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and the wicked one toucheth [catcheth] him not." – 1 John 5:18.
(3) "Being born [begotten] again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." – 1 Pet. 1:23.
(4) "No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." – John 6:44,37.
(5) "My Father, who gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." – John 10:29.
(6) "Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son." – Rom. 8:29.
(7) "The Lord knoweth them that are his." – 2 Tim. 2:19.
(8) "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." – Phil. 2:13. [R1698 : page 278]
(9) "If ye do these things, ye shall never fall; for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." – 2 Pet. 1:10,11.
(10) "To deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." – 1 Cor. 5:5.
The first four of these texts are supposed to teach that at our conversion we get from God an atom of himself, the seed of the new being; and this seed is presumed to be indestructible, incorruptible, unimpairable. It is claimed that although this seed may lie dormant awhile, or be hindered from development by a sinful course of life, it will ultimately, surely develop into a true and noble spiritual being.
But these texts do not so teach. They do not teach that the new nature, begotten by the holy seed, the truth, cannot corrupt, cannot die; – that the convert cannot fall from grace. The contrary is the suggestion and lesson of the figure used – natural begetting. It shows us the possibility of misconception, miscarriage, still-birth, etc., after the spiritual begetting as after the natural begetting. Thus the figure used contradicts the theory sought to be built upon it.
They do teach, that if our begetting is genuine, it must be a begetting or inspiring by the truth, and not by error; and that if we are really begotten by God's precious promises to new hopes, and new ambitions, and a new course of living, our natural preference for sin (by reason of the fall) having given place to a preference for righteousness, we cannot sin (wilfully); – and to them that are accepted in Christ nothing is reckoned sin that is contrary to their will, uncontrollable weaknesses, resulting from the fall, being covered from God's sight by the ransom. – Rom. 4:7,8.
Hence, if any man sin (wilfully, intentionally), it is a sign that at that time he is not begotten of God by the Word of truth. If he ever were begotten to a holy, consecrated will, the seed of truth must have died; for so long as it remains he could not take pleasure in wilful disobedience.
The truth-seed itself is incorruptible, but not so the newness of life begotten by it. The truth may be let slip, and leave us as though we had not known it. "We have this treasure [the spirit of the truth and the new wills begotten of it] in earthen vessels," as the Apostle says. (2 Cor. 4:7.) And our earthen vessels are all more or less cracked by the fall, so that we are unable to contain or to retain a full measure of the spirit of the truth, – with all the daubing and patching we can do; at best they are leaky vessels. Therefore, the Apostle again says, [R1698 : page 279] "We ought to give the more earnest heed lest we should let these things slip [leak out]."
The possibility of falling away, after having come into full fellowship with the Lord and been reckoned members of his "body," is very clearly taught by our Lord as well as by the apostles. In fact, the only ones in danger of falling away from divine favor are those who have been lifted up to that favor, and not the world still groveling in sin, "without God and without hope." The Apostle Paul says,
"If we [the consecrated Church] sin wilfully, after that we have received a knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins [we having enjoyed our share of grace under the one sacrifice], but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour [not preserve, nor purify, but destroy such wilful sinners as] the adversaries [of God]." – Heb. 10:26,27.
Again, he declares, It is impossible to renew unto repentance those once enlightened, who have been made partakers of the holy spirit, etc., if they shall fall away. (Heb. 6:4-8.) But so infatuated and so deceived by their own hearts are those whose views we criticise, that to these words they reply, Yes, but the Apostle says if; whereas he knew that they could not fall away, and is merely citing an impossible case. Such people can only be left to the blindness which their own wilfulness and prejudice has induced. Whoever can read this citation, and still claim that the Apostle was teaching the impossibility of Christians falling from divine favor, is surely lacking either in intelligence or conscientiousness; and it would be useless for us to try to convince him. For he who could and would so distort the divine record would have no difficulty in getting rid of any arguments we or others might frame.
The Apostle Peter speaks of this same class, saying, "For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ [i.e., by being "begotten by the Word of God"], they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it [been "begotten by the Word of God"] to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire." – 2 Pet. 2:20-22.
Our Lord taught the same lesson in his parables. He represented the state of the justified who backslide, by a man out of whom the devil had been cast and which, returning, found the heart swept and garnished, but unoccupied, and, entering in with others, made "the last end of that man worse than the first." – Matt. 12:43-45.
In the parable of the wedding guests (Matt. 22:11-13) the Lord shows one (who represents a class), who evidently came in among the others, clothed in the provided "wedding garment," and who was fully recognized as a guest and "friend" by the host until he removed the garment [which typifies Christ's imputed robe of righteousness]; and then he was cast out of the special light and favor into the outer darkness from which he originally came in.
In the parable of the sower our Lord shows how the good seed (the Word of God that liveth and abideth forever) might be received upon stony ground and sprout into being, and that new being afterward die, and how the same good, incorruptible seed in other cases is choked by the thorns of worldly business, pleasure and ambition. – Matt. 13:3-9,18-23.
In the parable of the Vine (John 15:1-8) he shows that one may be begotten by the Word of God, and even become a member of the elect Church, the true Vine, and be recognized as such by the husbandman, God, and that yet, if he fail to bring forth the fruits of the spirit, he will in due time be cut off from that elect Church or true Vine. For the present state of our membership is not final, but a probationary one, – His "house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." (Heb. 3:6.) We are justified by God's grace and called to be his sons, and "he is faithful that promised." (Heb. 10:23.) If there be failure or unfaithfulness, it will be on our part. Hence in receiving us as sons he is taking us at our [R1698 : page 280] Covenant: and whoever becomes a "castaway" must become such of his own wilful act, – "If we sin wilfully," etc.
Again, he tells us of one fully recognized as a servant and entrusted with a talent for service, who, because unfaithful, will have it taken from him and be himself cast into outer darkness: not because he never was a real servant, but because, being really a servant, he proved unfaithful. – Matt. 25:14-28.
The fourth is a simple statement that the Word and providence of God alone can draw men to Christ, the Life-giver, and that Christ will not refuse any coming as the result of such a drawing. It says not one word about his holding men who come so that they cannot go from him again, crucify him afresh and do despite to the spirit of God's favor.
The fifth text merely asserts God's willingness and ability to shield and keep all who desire to be kept – who abide under the shadow of the Almighty. It does not at all imply an imprisonment of those in God's care, so that they cannot go from him as they came to him, by the exercise of their own free wills.
The sixth text merely mentions that the class foreknown to the Lord as those who will be joint-heirs with Christ, he has foreordained must have characters like that of Christ – must be copies of him. See a further treatment of this text in Z.W. TOWER, Feb. 1, '94
The seventh text declares that God cannot be deceived. He knows those who become his, by being begotten by the Word, and he knows equally well whenever any lose the spirit of the truth and cease to will and to do according to his good pleasure.
The eighth text shows our continual dependence upon the Lord, not only for our first impulses toward holiness when we are begotten by his Word to newness of life, but also when we need the encouragement and promptings to deeds of righteousness which his exceeding great and precious promises continually inspire. God's Word is "the power of God unto salvation [by which he works in us first to will aright and then to do right] to every one that believeth" – receiving the spirit of that Word into good and honest hearts. – Compare 1 Pet. 1:23 with 2 Pet. 1:4 and Rom. 1:16.
The ninth text shows that our continuance in safety depends upon our own course of conduct after God has done his part through his Word and providences; if then we do these things, if we cultivate the spirit of Christ and are "not barren nor unfruitful," but "give diligence [R1699 : page 280] to make our calling and election sure," then, under such conditions, we "shall never fall;" for God will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, but will with the temptation provide a way of escape. – See TOWER, Oct. 15, '92.
The tenth text is the only one that gives even a slight support to the doctrine claimed. Here one of the begotten or consecrated Church has committed sin; not necessarily a wilful sin, but quite probably in part at least a sin of ignorance; the transgressor was probably a "babe" in Christ and in the knowledge of the divine will, or had mistaken the liberty wherewith Christ makes free for license to sin, or both. At all events, the Apostle's language indicates that his case was not a hopeless one, as it would have been had the sinner transgressed against full light and knowledge, wilfully. For the same Apostle declares that such cannot be renewed unto repentance. – Heb. 6:4-6. Compare 1 John 5:16.
The Apostle would show the Church the importance of prompt and decisive action to correct such an error. The wrong-doer should not be temporized with, nor coaxed and advised, nor remonstrated against, but should be promptly disfellowshipped by all the pure-minded, refused all recognition and all privileges of fellowship, no matter what his professions or knowledge or talents: thus left to the world and the devil for fellowship, he would be the more likely to see his condition and reform. That in the case mentioned the man did not have a bad spirit, [R1699 : page 281] but still had some love for God and his people and a desire for spiritual things, is shown by the Apostle's words, "That the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." If his spirit had been bad, the Apostle would not suggest its being saved – all that is evil must be destroyed. This man's spirit was good – his will was to do God's will, but from some cause he did not allow the exceeding great and precious promises of God's Word work in him to do right. The purity of the Church demanded that he be dealt with rigorously; and his own future depended upon whether or not the animal nature which was ruling him should be mortified – put to death. – Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5.
The mortifying of the flesh implies that we cease to do evil and learn to do well; becoming dead as to sin, but alive unto righteousness. Only those who attain to such conditions will ever have everlasting life upon any plane of being.
But there are two ways of reaching the same end. The more desirable and more noble of the two is this; viz., after justification and peace with God, by faith in the great atonement, we should consider ourselves as bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ, and hence no longer our own, and should present our bodies living sacrifices to the service of the Lord – to be used, not according to our former will of the flesh, but according to the will (the Lord's will) to which we have been begotten by the word of truth. Such will not fulfil the desires of the flesh – sacrificed and reckoned dead, but the desires of their new spirit. The mind of Christ dwelling in them richly will control them more and more, and accomplish the sacrifice of the flesh in God's service. The class who so do, during this Gospel age, are called "Overcomers;" and to them will be fulfilled all the richest of God's promises; and, as joint-heirs with Christ, they shall inherit all things. These are in all a "little flock," because their path is a narrow one.
The other way of reaching the same result, viz., of becoming dead to sin and alive toward righteousness is followed by many; but it is an ignoble way, an unsatisfactory way and in every sense undesirable. It is this: After gaining justification and peace through Christ, to make a covenant of self-sacrifice, and then by yielding to temptations and weaknesses to fail to overcome; and yet to hold tightly to the Lord, at the same time not resisting the desires of the flesh – not crucifying the flesh with its affections and desires, good and bad. This is the attitude of the majority of truly consecrated Christians – they are seeking to serve God and mammon, to please self and worldly friends as well as the Lord, some going to one extreme and some to another. The result of their course is that they please nobody. The world endures them, but despises their religious aspirations as "cant," and themselves as hypocrites. They are always dissatisfied with themselves, feeling conscience-smitten that they are violating the spirit of their consecration. They do not please the Lord, but he has pity on them. He sees that if right-doing were just as easy as wrong-doing, this class would choose the right; and in sympathetic pity he does for them the only thing that can be done further. He delivers them to Satan; he permits the great enemy of righteousness to attack them; – he permits their cherished ambitions to ensnare them and pinch them, their idols to fall, their earthly sweets to turn to bitterness, until, heart-sick and disappointed, the spirit may turn fully to the Lord, not an "overcomer," not a sacrifice, but one in whom the flesh has been destroyed by bitter experience, crying,
"I have sought the world around,
Peace and comfort nowhere found.
Now to Christ my spirit turns,
Turns a fugitive unblest."
But such a result is by no means a certainty; instead of the buffetings and troubles turning the heart to the Lord, it may and often does result in utter loss of the spirit of Christ and a total cutting off and destruction of the unfruitful branch.
The Apostle says, "that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." The result is at best an uncertainty – it may or may not be saved ultimately. The only way to save such as will not sacrifice is to put them through troubles which will destroy the flesh and develop the spirit; and this heroic remedy the Lord applies.
This is the secret of much of the trouble through which God's people pass: – they are [R1699 : page 282] not overcomers, and he is putting them through troublous experiences to destroy the will of the flesh and its control of them as "new creatures," and save them from their old selves. For the "great company" (mentioned in Rev. 7:9,10) refers not merely to some of this class now living, who, because not overcomers, not self-sacrificers, will not be saved from the great "time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation," but go into it and "have their portion with the hypocrites" and the world, in order that they may have the love of fleshly things – worldly ambitions, etc., – entirely burned out: it refers as well to a similar class passing through trouble during all this Gospel age. To those rightly exercised a reward, a blessing, will be granted and everlasting life – although all such will lose the great prize to which all called in this age might attain, with far less pain and trouble, if obedient to their covenant, – self-sacrificers. But if, notwithstanding this discipline and experience, any still choose to live after the flesh, the Apostle's warning is that such "shall die" (Rom. 8:13); and he refers to the second death evidently, because the first death (Adamic death) passed upon all.
But let it not be forgotten that the "overcomers" also "suffer," pass through "fiery trials" and "endure a great fight of afflictions," partly in their own persons and partly in their fellowship with others misused. (See Heb. 10:33,34.) There is a difference, however, a great difference between these sufferings of the sacrificers and those sufferings previously mentioned, of the class having their flesh destroyed. The sufferings of the self-sacrificing class are for godliness, for righteousness' sake, and in the interest of the Lord, his people and his truth, directly or indirectly: and such sufferings are accompanied by a joy and peace which make them, however severe, to appear but "light afflictions" and "but for a moment." (Compare Acts 16:22-25; 2 Cor. 4:17; Rom. 8:18; Acts 5:41.) But joy and rejoicing are properly lacking in the sufferings for correction in righteousness, and for unfaithfulness to the covenant of self-sacrificers: the destruction of the flesh is therefore doubly painful; and for every reason those who have been called to suffer with Christ as joint-sacrificers, and by and by to be his joint-heirs, should lay aside every hindrance and weight and run in the race, – that they may make their calling and election sure and win the prize.
In this tenth text, therefore, there is nothing to indicate that all who obtain the grace of God will never fall from it: it does, however, show God's longsuffering mercy, his unwillingness that any should perish in whom an acceptable character can be developed at any cost.
In conclusion, then, we exhort you, "that ye receive not the grace of God in vain." "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." (2 Cor. 6:1; Heb. 4:1.) The crown of life is promised to those faithful until death. – Compare Ezek. 33:13,14; Rev. 2:10,11,26; 3:5.
A PROCLAMATION inviting the discontented Roman Catholics and Catholics other than Roman in the United States to unite has been issued in Cleveland. It is signed by Rev. A. F. Kolaszewski, president, and M. A. Chrostowski, secretary of the Polish National Church Committee. They headed the revolt from St. Stanislaus' Roman Catholic church in that city, which led to the establishment of an independent church on Fremont street. They propose not to limit the movement to any nationality, but to bring together all who desire to enter the independent fold. Fifty thousand copies of the proclamation will be distributed through the country, and in a short time a convention of delegates representing Polish congregations throughout the country will be held. After this convention has organized a new denomination, discontents of other nationalities will be invited to join it. The proclamation reads: [R1700 : page 283] PROCLAMATION OF THE POLISH NATIONAL CHURCH COMMITTEE OF THE CATHOLICS IN THE UNITED STATES.
Fellow citizens and co-religionists: The Poles of the United States, and all who have found out from years of bitter experience what a curse to their national interests, to their enlightenment and progress, their allegiance to the church of Rome is, have decided to throw away the hateful yoke covered with moss of ages of fanaticism and tyranny. Therefore, they have decided to establish the Polish Independent Catholic Church of America. Our religion, our faith, will remain essentially the same; but we want to be our own masters relative to the management of our worldly affairs. The principles laid down for the establishment of the Independent Catholic Church are as follows: –
Third. The congregations will exercise perfect freedom in regard to the education of their children. There should be no compulsion in regard to the sending of their children to parochial schools. The parochial schools should be furnished with American textbooks and the American system of teaching.
These are the principles laid down by us for the establishment of an Independent Catholic Church in this country. We have already, upon these principles, established one church in Cleveland, O. Others are being organized in Baltimore, Chicago, Buffalo, Nanticoke and Reading, Pa. In a few years hence we are sure of having an independent congregation in every Polish settlement in this country. But our aim is broader still. We do not want to confine this work of reform to our nationality alone. We want to spread it all over the country; we want to reach every catholic citizen of the United States whose heart beats for freedom and who is opposed to the tyranny and fanaticism on which the church of Rome is founded. For the purpose of carrying on the propaganda of religious freedom among the Poles, the Polish National Church Committee was elected. This committee was authorized to confer with the catholics in this country, composed of other nationalities. This committee, representing about 125,000 Poles who are worshiping already in the independent spirit, makes an appeal to you, fellow citizens and co-religionists, and invites you to join in the movement. We have not the least doubt that many thousands of American catholics – Bohemian, German, Irishmen, Frenchmen, and others – are dissatisfied with the arbitrary rulings of the church of Rome, which is represented in this country by the whimsical, despotic, and shallow-minded American bishops. We have not the least doubt that many of you are opposed to the church property being owned exclusively by the bishops. This is simply absurd. This only shows to what degree extends the greed for money of our high church officials.
We have no doubt, also, that you would be willing to have for your spiritual adviser a priest who would really care for his flock, and not for the bishop's interests, as it is at present. We draw the example from the state of matters existing among us. In our Polish congregations we have had many examples where our priests were treated in most unjust, most cruel, most diabolical manner by their superiors, the bishops. And we know that the only reason for this was that the priest really cared for the good of his flock, and did not want to enrich the bishop at the expense of his congregation. We presume that more or less the same state of things exists among all the catholics in this country. Therefore, when we say that we want the election of the priest to be reserved for the congregation – if not exclusively, then partially, at least – we are sure we touch the keynote of the question. Then come the schools. The superiority in everything of the public schools formed on the American system of school teaching is so apparent to everybody that we will not dwell upon this subject at all.
So, fellow citizens and co-religionists, you can plainly see that we do not wish to change our faith – our denomination. We wish to remain as we are, catholics, but we want our church, just as all the institutions in this country are, to be governed by the spirit of freedom. We want it to be governed by the free and glorious Constitution of the United States. We will remain catholics, but the worldly affairs of our own church will be solely and exclusively in our own hands. We do not want to organize any other congregations but the catholic, but they must be self-governed, dictated to by the majority of the people, and not by the arbitrary bishop, despotic Satolli, or infallible pope of Rome.
On the road to the great religious freedom and deliverance, however, we will find many hard obstacles. The church of Rome is great and powerful even in this country. While the centuries passed away it remained the same, unchanged and unmoved, and now it is even more [R1700 : page 284] grim, fanatical and arbitrary than centuries ago. [R1701 : page 284] Its power, as hundreds of years ago, is founded upon ignorance, superstition and fanaticism, and there is small wonder that even in this country it is so great. This church of Rome will do its utmost to stop our work of reform. It will beg, it will pray, or it will curse and excommunicate, or it will strain every nerve in its gigantic body to stop or crush us to the dust.
Fellow citizens and brother catholics! United we would stand – withstand all the onslaughts of this mighty enemy of freedom – divided, separated, we would fall, accomplish nothing, or very little, at the end. We invite, therefore, most earnestly, every one of you who thinks more or less the same as we do, to join in this grand stride for religious liberty. Instead of having a committee composed of one nationality for the carrying on of this propaganda, we must have a national American church committee, composed of all nationalities, with different branches – that is, Polish, Bohemian, German, Irish, and others. To bring about this we must first have a convention, where all the plans for the future work of reform will be discussed and the above committee organized. Therefore, we invite all who will take interest in this proclamation to come to a convention which we propose to hold in Cleveland for the purpose of discussing all the matters pertaining to the establishment of the independent catholic church in America. We propose the city of Cleveland for the place of convention, because in this city the great movement was first begun a year ago. In this city, too, we have already established an independent catholic congregation, known as the congregation of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This congregation, in spite of the excommunication by the bishop of the Cleveland diocese, in spite of the repeated appeals by Satolli, whose despotical and whimsical inclinations are best shown by his order expelling all the saloonkeepers from the catholic societies, grows larger every day, gaining new members. We beg of all of you who are willing to take part in this great convention to notify of your intention one of the following officers of our committee, who, after the list of those ready to participate will be more or less completed, will name the clerk of the convention.
In the name of the Polish National Church Committee,
A large Catholic congregation in Baltimore, Md., known as The Church of the Holy Rosary, and numbering about three thousand members, has decided to follow the example set at Detroit and Cleveland; – organize an Independent Church, place its affairs in the hands of a committee, engage its own pastor, etc. Two of its members were sent as a committee to Cleveland to investigate the conduct of affairs there, and made a glowing report of the success of the movement. They report that about thirty priests are ready to accept positions as soon as they are offered. It was to prevent just such a movement and keep peace in the Roman Catholic family that Satolli was sent here as the representative of the pope. His mission was only partially successful in the healing of the McGlynn schism. A similar Independent Catholic movement is on foot in Europe.
In harmony with the foregoing a general Convention met at Cleveland on Aug. 20, at which were delegates from congregations of Polish Catholic secessionists in fourteen cities of the U.S. – those of Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis and Buffalo being the largest. The latter was reported by its delegates as 8000 strong.
Archbishop Vilatte was chosen the head of the new church; and while some favored a name indicating the Polish origin of the new denomination, it was finally decided that as Catholics of all nationalities would be invited to join it the name should be, The American Catholic Church.
A resolution renouncing forever allegiance to the Pope of Rome was voted down, – the Archbishop declaring, "We will always recognize the primacy of the pope. That does not imply that we believe in his infallibility or supremacy. The pope is nothing, but we respect him for his primacy."
Archbishop Vilatte in a speech said, "We are met together to exclaim, 'Great is the truth, and it shall prevail.' We are met to proclaim all over the land, 'Beware of despotism, if you love liberty.' The American Catholic Church will be composed of different nationalities."
THE Nation's Friend, a leading Japanese monthly published at Tokio, has a paper by Professor K. Ukita of the Doshisha College, on "Religion in America," which has been translated for The New York Independent. Professor Ukita studied at Yale University for a period of two years, and he gives his opinion as the result of personal observation. [R1700 : page 285]
Mr. Ukita noticed that the lower classes in America do not attend church. This is not a phenomenon of one district only. After noticing the real condition of society, he found that there is a proper cause for this phenomenon. There is a custom in America of restricting the seats in the religious temples; they are sold to certain persons, and, even in the churches with free seats, it is generally the custom to take up collections for the maintenance of the services; and, moreover, it is the custom for ladies to wear fine dresses. Such being the custom, those who have not much money and wear coarse clothes are ashamed to enter the churches. Civilization is progressing, but it shows no mercy to the laborer. The Gospel is preached, but the laborers cannot hear it. Ah! the words, "Blessed are the poor," and "The Gospel is preached to the poor," are no longer true; they are simply recorded in a Bible which is chained to the pulpit. In some extreme cases the Christian Church excludes poor people from coming into the Church. The Gospel of the Saviour has become an almost exclusive possession of the rich and middle classes.
The people by whom the present Church is organized are capitalists and people of the middle class. The day when they meet with people of the lower class is not on the Sabbath when the all-loving and merciful God and Christ are remembered. Although they give money to the Church on Sunday, on the weekdays they do not remember the golden words of Christ; they only know the economical principle that they should buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest market.
It is not proper to say that those outside of the Church are not Christians. There are many people who make the true God and Christ their moral ideal, and yet who do not attend church. Even among the lower class of people whose names are not written on the church-rolls, there are many who hold the same ideal. In one society in New York, when a speaker pronounces the word Church, the audience hiss, but when he speaks the name of Christ they applaud; so that it is clear that the present Church has lost its power to attract men, and especially to attract the heart of the lower classes. But this is not a sign of the decline of Christianity. This fact simply shows that the creed and system hitherto prevailing are antiquated and do not keep pace with the general current of the Nineteenth Century.
If the Christian Church cannot reform its creed and system very radically, it may come to stand in the same position in the coming revolution as it did in the time of the French Revolution. It is true that the Church in America is separated from the State; but, on the other hand, it makes a league with the capitalists, and the rich organize a church by themselves and the poor by themselves. Although there is no difference of Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, and even no difference of race in the Kingdom of Heaven, the present Church in America not only refuses to allow the poor to come in, but it is a fact that the white people and the black are opposing each other. The great future revolution of the world will be not merely religious and political, but also a great social revolution, consisting of economical and race reformation.
"That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation." – Matt. 23:35,36.
The thought is this, – That generation (the one in which our Lord lived) had so many advantages [R1701 : page 286] over every previous generation, in general intelligence, as well as from the special teachings of Christ and his followers, that its [R1702 : page 286] responsibility was only proportionate. As it had more advantages than all previous generations combined, so the punishment for its course of sin must in justice be all and more than equivalent to the punishments visited upon past transgressions all combined.
But let us not confuse these national and generational judgments with individual judgments. They were distinct. For instance, a certain immediate judgment came upon Cain for the murder of his brother; and so with every crime there seems to go a certain amount of present-life punishment, entirely distinct from the future retribution. What "stripes" may yet be due to Cain we cannot surely know, except that it will be "a just recompense." And so in the case before us in our text, only the immediate and visible consequences of sin are referred to. The outward and immediate consequences of the rejection and murder of Christ would be, and properly, more severe than all the outward and immediate punishments of all previous transgressions against God's people combined.
This statement in no way involves the future retribution of the people of that generation. In that future retribution they will not be judged nationally, nor as a generation, but each individual will be held responsible for his own conduct in proportion as he transgressed against the light; and each, through the merit of the "ransom for all," will be offered a credit proportionate to the weaknesses he had sustained from the fall. These conclusions are sustained by the words of the Apostle Peter. – Acts 2:23,37-40.
Our Lord's statement in our text was corroborated by the Apostle Paul, who declared, "wrath is come upon them to the uttermost" (1 Thes. 2:16); confirming the Prophet Daniel's words, "He shall make it desolate until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." (Dan. 9:27.) And secular history estimates the trouble which came upon Israel, upon that generation, within forty years of our Lord's utterance above quoted, as the most awful that had thus far occurred amongst men; – thus attesting the correctness of our Lord's prediction.
But when we remember that Israel according to the flesh was a typical people, and that God's promises to them, dealings with them and judgments upon them were typical or illustrative of similar promises, dealings and judgments, but on a wider and grander scale, made to the Gospel Church – the antitypical people of God, the true Israel – we are led to expect similar things upon the closing generation of the Gospel age. And we find it predicted of these two houses of Israel, by God through his prophets, that only a remnant, a "little flock," from each will prove worthy, while the majority will stumble; and that upon them will come an awful trouble in the end of the Gospel age, "a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation." – Dan. 12:1.
As not all Israelites were Israelites indeed, so not all Christians in name are Christians indeed. As the true Israelites were gathered out of, or separated from, nominal Israel, first in spirit or intent and afterward literally, before the great trouble came, so here, in the end of this age, there must be a separation of true wheat from tare imitations, first in spirit and afterward actually, so that they be not partakers of the plagues or troubles predicted. – Rev. 18:4.
And as a punishment equivalent to all other punishments combined for shedding of righteous blood was exacted of the closing generation of typical Israel, just so it will be with the closing generation of this Gospel age; – the present generation. The knowledge and advantages every way of the present generation, above those of all previous generations, make its responsibility correspondingly great; and its penalty for hardness of heart, unreadiness to receive the Lord and his Kingdom, and resistance of the truth, now shining out upon every side as never before, is to be equivalent to the combined judgments upon all who have despised, rejected and persecuted God's people, throughout the age. And thus we read, that when Babylon's fall is complete, after God's people, heeding his voice, have come out of her, then, in her overthrow, will be found – "the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth." (Rev. 18:24.) No wonder, then, that her fall will mean a "time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation!"
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – The following is a copy of a letter recently received by a friend of mine from another old, intimate, personal friend, who is now in India as missionary for the Baptists. It illustrates wonderfully the blind gropings of the spiritual leaders of nominal Christendom. (The italics are his.)
Yours in Christian love,
My Dear Friend: – Every time I open my writing case, your letter is seen by me. I was very glad to get it and to learn so much of Y.M.C.A. work in Ontario. Every one who writes makes some such statement as follows: – "Well, I need not tell you of Y.M.C.A. affairs, as others will have written you on that subject;" and between them all they keep me well in the dark.
A good many people in writing the missionary, too, imagine they must assume a commiserating air, or rather tone, and talk of self-sacrifice, burden, and all sorts of sentiment. I know people at home look on the foreign mission field as a horrible pit, into which, amid the supplications of home friends for his safety, the heroic missionary descends with only a forlorn hope of being spared to ascend again. And I know the missionaries largely like to have it so. But, as a matter of fact, it is one of the highest deceptions in all creation; and a very rude shock my wife and self received when we came to Madras, and afterwards to our own fellow-missionaries in Cocauade, Tuni, etc., and saw the comfort they lived in. [See Z.W. TOWER for January 1, '92.] Don't misunderstand me – the missionary has as much right (and certainly more need) to live comfortably as the workers at home; but my contention is that the truth should be told, and a little of the sentimental rubbish which pervades, at times, even that unique denominational paper which is published in T__________, should be "sat on."
I am not in the least to be pitied here or commiserated with. Why, on Saturday evenings lately I have been literally howling with delight. People are coming in in large numbers, young men sit down and hear me through attentively. Then we lack nothing, have abundance of food, a house suited to the hard climate, and plenty of servants to do the running for us. We live not like niggers here: we live and dress as Europeans, and are looked up to by the people; though our truth is not believed. And in these days of fast and cheap travel we may entertain a reasonable expectation, if the Lord will, of going home at fair intervals in life to see old faces and places. If I'm spared to come home ever, I'll tell up mission life as it is, or else forever hold my peace. The church is very ripe for judgment. The world is uneasy. Europe is an armed camp. Society shakes in its shoes – the clay and iron has proved itself thoroughly wanting in cohesive qualities, as per the divine Record. The Jews, God's heritage, are casting longing eyes toward the city of David, and God is certainly drawing attention to the ancient land in ways that are marvelous – railways, increased commerce, amazing immigration, increasing fertility, all around us expectancy of a great something, the world cannot tell what. What does it mean? Is he, the Beloved, at the doors? At any rate, it becomes us to gird up our loins as men who wait for their Lord.
Yours in the one body, and in hope of his coming,
THE Editor receives frequent urgent requests to visit various little groups and preach, especially for the benefit of outsiders who might be awakened. We are obliged to decline these invitations – for the present at least – believing that the general work of the TOWER office which demands our attention is still more important, because it is for a larger number. Besides, it is a part of your work and privilege to tell the glad tidings wisely and lovingly to your fellow Christians and neighbors who have not yet learned the present truth. Love for them and for the truth and of the Lord's approval should take you into Y.M.C.A. Meetings, Class Meetings and Prayer Meetings regularly to scatter the truth by word or by printed page, or as best you can – but always wisely and lovingly, so as not to stumble and offend, but to bless.
But realizing that you may need help in preparation for such work of ministry, we have arranged lately to have several brethren travel, some giving a part, and some all of their time in visiting you for the purpose of building you up in the truth and in its spirit.
We have sought to choose for this work brethren of (1) unexceptional character, polished with the truth; (2) of meekness – that they might not be puffed up and thus be injured themselves, while seeking to help you; (3) of clear conception of the Lord's great plan and fully imbued with its spirit; (4) of ability to impart the truth to others in its own power [R1702 : page 288] and simplicity (not necessarily orators); (5) of known fidelity to the ransom; (6) of humble mind who seek not to preach themselves, but Christ – not to air their own knowledge, but his Word in its simplicity and power; (7) students of the Word, of cultivated thought, well founded and settled; – not wondering novices – not teachers of speculations and fancies, nor of Anglo-Israelism, Socialism, Politics, astronomical theories, etc., but (8) teachers of the One Lord, One Faith and One Baptism – the one gospel authorized by and based upon the one sacrifice, given once for all.
If any of these Brethren come your way they will introduce themselves by showing a printed and signed Certificate from the Watch Tower Tract Society (renewed yearly); whereupon we are sure they will be granted the leadership of the meetings. Nevertheless prove all things they may say by the only infallible authority – the Word of God. Should you deem their teachings in conflict with the Word in any particular, the differences should be promptly and clearly stated in a letter to the WATCH TOWER. The question would receive attention either by letter or, if of general interest, would be treated in the TOWER.
Some of these Brethren are so situated as to be able to give fragments of their time to this work, and that free of expense to the Tract Fund; others will receive some assistance; and still others, giving all of their time, will be wholly at the expense of the Tract Fund; – a portion of your "Good Hopes" donations to the Tract Fund being thus used for the benefit of yourself and others. We desire to divest the truth of all subserviency to money and begging – often so injurious to such work. And consequently let it be understood from the first that collections or other solicitations of money are neither authorized nor approved by this Society.
This branch of the work is only an experiment and we shall watch for results and for the Lord's further leading. While you and the Colporteurs and the O.T. Tracts and the Dawns are arousing attention and interest, and the TOWER and you are strengthening and upbuilding the "body," this new feature should further assist in the same great work; – the Bride making herself ready for joint-heirship with the Bridegroom. – Rev. 19:7.
Of course all cannot be visited; and it is purposed that for the present it will be unwise to stop at any place having less than five TOWER subscribers; for we esteem that any one at all interested in present truth will want the TOWER; as its terms make it possible for all to be on our list.
III. QUAR., LESSON XII., SEP. 16, JOHN 4:9-26.
As we read these gracious words of the Master, and especially his reply to the woman's reference to the Messiah, the hope of Israel – "I that speak unto thee am he" – our hearts also thrill with a solemn gladness; for the blessings of his advent and the water of life which he gives have come to us also.
Several points in this lesson are worthy of special notice. (1) Observe the simple condescension of the Lord in thus endeavoring to make plain the way of life to one who had strayed far from the path of rectitude; (2) the natural and earnest manner [R1703 : page 288] of introducing the subject and pointing the lesson; and (3) the teaching.
He offers the water of life – the refreshing hope of life through faith in him as the Redeemer, which hope would be like a perennial well-spring continually rising up in her heart. (Verse 14.) So it is now; but by and by when the hopes of the believing Church are realized and God's Kingdom is fully established, these wells will flow together, and a mighty river of the water of life will come forth from underneath the throne of God for the refreshment of all who will partake of it. – Rev. 22:1.
Then – in that Millennial age of glory and blessing – all who worship God will worship him in the spirit of the truth. – Ver. 24.
We who have partaken of the water of life and truth which Christ has furnished us can truly say, It satisfies our longing souls as nothing else could do. And those who are drinking of it have no cravings for the vain philosophies of men which make void the Word of God. We are still drinking; but according to our Lord's words we shall soon be satisfied (Matt. 5:6) – when we awake in his likeness, in the first resurrection – Psa. 17:15; Phil. 3:11.
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – One of our dear friends writes of disappointment, in a small town, among strangers; and of lonesomeness, with no companionship but the Savior. Christians must follow Christ. He trod the wine press alone, absolutely alone: without companionship even of the Father, who hitherto had been one with him. Happiness in the society of many sympathizing friends may be taken as indication of weakness, and of necessity for such sympathy. The wind is tempered to the shorn, weak lambs.
Some, who appear to have much company, really do not. Some, earnest for the truth, appear to stand in the midst of large and ever increasing groups of friends. But they really each stand alone; snow-capped and clear above the clouds, like bleak mountain tops, towering their grand, neighboring but isolated peaks above, and always higher than the aspiring, friendly, lesser mountains and hills composing their chain.
Alone! What an awful significance! And to think that he whose righteousness was not imputed did really agonize alone. Absolutely without companionship! In his excruciating despair he cried, "My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me!" What wonder, then, that he who was justified to live, but was permitted to lay down his life, should thus cry out in agony when he yielded up the spirit of life!
Why should any who aspire to be with and like him, in the glorious immortality of the Divine Nature, hope to escape similar experience? The thorns, the cross and the piercing nails may not be from the bush, the tree or the mine; but they will, none the less, be real, tangible and terror striking. We may pray that, if possible and without drinking, this cup may pass from us, assured also that, if possible, the request will be granted; but we must also add with resignation, if not with cheerfulness, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt."
TRACT NO. 21 – DO YOU KNOW? – is being prepared in German. Order in advance what you can use judiciously. The English edition is exhausted; but a new lot is under way, which will run the total above half a million copies.
|VOL. XV.||SEPTEMBER 15, 1894.||NO. 18.|
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." – Phil. 4:8.
Being desirous that these disciples should continue to manifest the fruits of the spirit and to grow in grace, this epistle is one of encouragement and wise counsel – to stand fast in the faith and spirit of the gospel and to learn more fully how to deny themselves even as Christ did (1:27,29; 2:1-11); to work out their salvation with fear and trembling (2:12); to beware of false teachers and evil workers (3:2,18,19); and to seek to be all of the same mind – the mind which was in Christ Jesus; to esteem each other in the Lord; and to do nothing even for the cause of Christ through any spirit of strife or vain-glory.
Then follows this beautiful final admonition of our text, so in keeping with the thought that out of the heart are the issues of life. The heart represents the will, the intentions. The will must be kept true and centered in God: it is the governing power of the whole man. Blessed are the pure in heart – those of fixed, uncompromising purpose. Yet though the will is the controlling power of the man, it is also subject to influences. If the thoughts be impure, unjust or unholy, the power of the will becomes more and more impaired. Hence the wisdom of the Apostle's advice as to what should be the character of our thoughts. In those who are striving to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord – to adorn themselves with the beauty of holiness – the thoughts must not be neglected and permitted to browse in every pasture, but must be disciplined to feed upon convenient and healthful food, such as the Apostle directs, viz.: –
(1) "Whatsoever things are true." That would exclude indulgence in visionary and foolish fiction, which does so much to corrupt the mind and squander time. It would also exclude [R1703 : page 292] all the idle speculative theories of men who, ignoring the true gospel, seek to draw away disciples after them. It would banish also the vain philosophies of the creeds of "Christendom," when once the symmetry and beauty of the divine plan of the ages has been seen. It would avoid all idle gossip and evil surmisings; and, having escaped the gloom and discontent and the perplexity, care and worry consequent upon entertaining such thoughts, the mind can be at peaceful leisure for the contemplation of that which is true. Then it may draw from the abundant storehouse which our bountiful God has supplied, both in his Word of law and prophecy and precept and promise and in the open book of Nature.
How richly the mind is rewarded that dwells upon these things. The law of God and its application to all the minutiae of life's affairs should be the most constant theme of meditation among the saints, since it is to be applied in all our business and social relations; and its often intricate problems require close discernment and discrimination. "Oh, how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day," is the sentiment which the inspired Psalmist (119:97) would put into the mouth of all the Lord's people. Then the prophecies, so laden with good tidings of great joy for all people, and the promises, so exceeding great and precious, how full of blessing they are to all who delight in their contemplation! And in the light of the glorious gospel nature itself wears a brighter face and speaks a loftier language, emphasizing the love and power and praise of our God. Whatsoever things are true, brethren, think on these things.
(2) "Whatsoever things are honest." That would exclude all deceit and hypocrisy, all evil scheming and intrigue, as well as thoughts of deliberate plunder of falsehood or evil speaking, giving place to frank and open honesty of thought, developing daily into good and noble deeds.
(3) "Whatsoever things are just." This would discard all unjust weights and balances in estimating the character and motives of our fellow-men, and particularly our brethren in Christ. It would make all due allowances for the infirmities of the flesh, remembering that we also are subject to infirmity, if not so much in one direction, then in another. It would [R1704 : page 292] consider surroundings, estimate the bias of influences and calculate the force of temptations, in order to find, if possible, extenuating circumstances for favorable judgment. Yet it would not ignore facts, and so blindly encourage evil.
The mind, where justice is enthroned, not only seeks always to judge justly, but it has also a fine appreciation of justice. It delights to trace the lines of justice in God's wonderful plan of human salvation. It so clearly sees the value of justice, which is the very foundation principle of God's throne, that the value of the precious blood of Christ in satisfying the demands of justice and thus reclaiming the forfeited life of the world is keenly appreciated. And so fully is this feature of the divine plan and the grandeur of the principle of justice seen and realized, that no vain philosophy of men, which suggests other schemes of salvation which ignore the just claims of justice, can be tolerated. No other plan but this, which is founded in justice and executed in love, can claim the attention of those whose habit of thought is just and to whom the divine plan has been revealed.
(4) "Whatsoever things are pure." Blessed are the pure in heart and mind. Pure thoughts, devoid of the slime and filth of sin, how they invigorate and energize the soul in every high and noble work! The pure mind demands a pure body and clean clothing, though it may be ever so coarse. It courts the society of only the pure and good and shuns the contamination of all others. It seeks also only that which is pure, in literature or in art. The vile insinuation, the rude jest, the unchaste in art, are alike an abomination to the pure mind. The pure mind finds delight in the society of the pure and in the contemplation of the virtues and graces and of the true and beautiful. The blessedness of such a condition of mind and heart is too far above the comprehension of the impure to be to any extent appreciated. Its happifying and ennobling influence is best illustrated by the effects upon the body of thorough [R1704 : page 293] cleansing and clean clothing which give new energy and vigor to the physical man.
(5) "Whatsoever things are lovely; whatsoever things are of good report [worthy of praise]; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Added to all the solid virtues of truth, honesty, justice and purity, let all the lovely graces and adornments of meekness, patience, faith, godliness, benevolence, kindness and charity occupy our thoughts. And as we hold these virtues before the mind's eye as a mirror, they gradually become more and more assimilated, and the transforming work goes on in our own characters. Thus, too, the will is strengthened and inspired with fresh energy to fulfil its great work in governing and controlling the whole man.
This the Apostle saw to be the philosophy of the influence of the thoughts upon the will and vice versa. Therefore, he would have us set a watch and a governor upon our thoughts and feed them with wholesome and life-giving food, that thus the thoughts may re-inforce the will, and the will may govern and control the thoughts to the end that both the present and the future blessing of the pure in heart may be realized by those who are diligently seeking for them. – Matt. 5:8.
THESE many years! What lessons they unfold
Of grace and guidance through the wilderness,
From the same God that Israel of old
In the Shekinah glory did possess.
How faithful he, through all my griefs and fears
And constant murmurings, these many years!
God of the Covenant! From first to last,
From when I stood within that sprinkled door
And o'er my guilt the avenging angel passed,
Thy better angel has gone on before;
And naught but goodness all the way appears,
Unmerited and free, these many years!
Thy presence wrought a pathway through the sea;
Thy presence made the bitter water sweet;
And daily have thy hands prepared for me
Sweet, precious morsels – lying at my feet.
'Twas but to stoop and taste the grace that cheers,
And start refreshed, through all these many years!
What time I thirsted and earth's streams were dry,
What time I wandered and my hope was gone,
Thy hand has brought a pure and full supply,
And, by a loving pressure, lured me on.
How oft that hand hath wiped away my tears
And written "Pardoned!" all these many years!
And what of discipline thy love ordained
Fell ever gently on this heart of mine;
Around its briers was my spirit trained
To bring forth fruits of righteousness divine;
Wisdom in every check, and love appears
In every stroke throughout these many years!
Lord, what I might have been my spirit knows –
Rebellious, petulant, and apt to stray:
Lord, what I am, in spite of flesh and foes,
I owe to grace that kept me in the way.
Thine be the glory! Merit disappears
As back I look upon these many years.
Thine be the glory! Thou shalt have the praise
For all thy dealings, to my latest breath;
A daily Ebenezer will I raise,
And sing Salvation through the vale of death –
To where the palm, the golden harp appears,
There to rehearse thy love through endless years.
POPE Leo XIII's recent encyclical letter is one of those remarkable features which, in company with other striking events and circumstances, distinguishes this day of the Lord from all previous times. The letter is addressed, not to the bishops and clergy, nor even to the Catholic community at large, but "principibus populisque universis" – "to the princes and peoples of the earth," and was evidently suggested by the fact, now so manifest, and long ago predicted by the Lord (Luke 21:26), that men's hearts are failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth. Out of this very fear, which the shaking of this present order of things, preparatory to its final removal (Heb. 12:26,27), engenders, Satan, whose masterpiece of iniquity and religious deception the church of Rome is, desires to make some capital wherewith to bolster up the tottering walls of his ancient fortress and protect his kingdom from ruin in the midst of the great time of trouble. [R1704 : page 294]
Consequently, the poor, deceived old man at the Vatican, who, as the professed Vicar of Jesus Christ, stands at the head of the great counterfeit Christian church, addresses himself to the whole world, inviting all men everywhere to come into the Roman fold, under the pastoral care of the Pope, so that thus the words of Christ may be fulfilled – "There shall be one fold and one shepherd." This, he says, he does in imitation of Christ, who, on the eve of his ascension, prayed that his disciples might be united. So, at the end of his life, he desires to invite all men, without respect to race or nationality, to come into the one fold, the Catholic church.
Referring to the heathen first, he recalls past missionary efforts of the church, declares his deep concern for the conversion of the heathen, and prays that the number of missionaries for the extension of "Christ's kingdom" may be multiplied.
The letter then deals with the various Christian nations, and expresses the grief of the Pope that flourishing nations have, by religious dissensions in the past, been torn from the bosom of the church, and adds, – "We turn towards these nations and, of our fatherly charity, we beg them and implore them to wipe out all traces of dissensions, and return to unity."
An urgent appeal is then made to the Eastern churches – the Greek, Armenian, Nestorian, Jacobite, Coptic, and Abyssinian Catholics – urging upon their attention the primacy of the Roman Pontiff; and, while recognizing their friendly disposition toward the church of Rome, he promises that in the event of their return to the Roman communion, they need fear no diminution of their rights, of the privileges of their patriarchates, or of the rites and customs of their several churches; "for," he continues, "it has been, and will ever be, the purpose of the Apostolic See, and according to its traditions, to be condescending to all peoples and to respect generously their origins and customs."
The Protestants are next addressed, not as heretics, as of old, but as "dear brethren." Their separation from the church of Rome in the trying times of Luther and his associates is palliated and excused; the divisions and discords and wide diversity and conflict of faith among them is sympathetically pointed out; and while the recent efforts to secure union among the various sects on the basis of Christian charity, regardless of doctrine, is commended as a step in the right direction, the question is put – "How could perfect charity join hearts, if faith does not unite our spirits?" And that necessary faith is, of course, claimed to be in the church of Rome, to which all Protestants are invited in the following words, – "Our heart, more even than our voice, calls to you, dear brethren, who for three centuries past have been at issue with us in the Christian faith. Whoever you are, if for any reason you have parted from us, join with us in the unity of the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God. Let us hold out to you our hand affectionately and invite you to the unity which never failed the Catholic church, and which nothing can take from it. Long has our common mother called you to her breast: long have all the Catholics of the universe awaited you with the anxiety of brotherly love, hoping that you would serve God with us in the unity of the one gospel, one faith, one hope, one perfect charity."
Catholics everywhere are then urged to faithfulness and obedience to the authority of the church, and warned against the perils outside of her communion. Then Free Masonry is condemned; and the rights of the church and state and the duty and advantages of their mutual co-operation are discussed, with the usual complaint that the church is oppressed by the state and restrained from the exercise of its rightful authority, and that thereby the latter is preparing lamentable catastrophes for society.
The encyclical closes by disclaiming ambition for power and professing to seek only the preservation of virtue among men, and by this means to secure their salvation. It implores princes and rulers, in the name of their political foresight and solicitude for the interests of their peoples, "to weigh the Pope's designs" for religious union "equitably, and to second them by their favor and authority," in the hope that at least some benefit might accrue "amid the present rapid downfall of all things, when to the prevailing unrest is joined fear of the future." [R1704 : page 295]
Who cannot discern between the lines of this gauzy manifesto the policy-spirit which would lick the dust or play the tyrant as circumstances might require or permit, if by any means it might gain its unholy ends.
But aside from the Papal policy, this document, as before intimated, is a peculiar sign of the times. The Pope knows the fear and perplexity of rulers and statesmen, and how nervously they are casting about for some potent arm to assist them in the great struggle with the awakening and discontented masses of the people, and how disorganized and shattered are the ranks of the various religious denominations; and therefore, in this carefully prepared document, he would suggest that the influence of all be united to reinstate the old and formerly potent power of the persecuting church of Rome.
The plan which the Pope suggests is one which certainly does commend itself to the worldly-wise [R1705 : page 295] who desire to perpetuate the present order of things. In nothing but the power of ignorance and superstition and such tyranny as the Church of Rome exercises over her subjects can there be any reasonable hope of perpetuating present social institutions. And it is on this account that kings and rulers pay their respects to the head of that iniquitous system whose history and principles they despise and hate. It is this idea, and the fear that some day they may need to invoke the power of the Pope, that occasionally calls forth such demonstrations as those on the event of the Papal Jubilee a few years ago; and that is leading to the reinstatement of the Jesuits in Germany. In fear of greater evils from widespread anarchy, they are loth to part with the old tyrant of the Tiber who formerly ruled them with a rod of iron.
From the world's conservative standpoint it surely would be wise to help to keep the reins of government of the masses of the people in some strong hands; but such is not God's purpose. Men may thus exert themselves to the utmost, but their councils and schemes will avail nothing in the day of the Lord's anger.
But so far as the selection and development of the "little flock," the true Church, is concerned, it would be far better if all religious denominational lines were broken up and each individual Christian were thus led individually to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free – taking God's Word as his rule of faith and practice and accepting such helps to the understanding of that Word as God in his providence supplies.
Commenting on this encyclical, the N.Y. Sun says, "Unquestionably the time is ripe, or soon will be, for a moral co-operation of all men calling themselves Christians against revolutionary teachings which threaten the destruction alike of religion and of civilization. The necessity of such a combination against anti-social forces has been repeatedly affirmed by Leo XIII., and is proclaimed with special anxiety and fervor in what perhaps will prove to be his last encyclical."
The lameness of the law of selfishness is here manifested. Those who have some possessions of this world and who have some hopes and facilities for their increase, fear the growing intelligence of the lower strata of society, which, having nothing, has "nothing to lose." This latter class is gradually learning its power, and daily comes more into sympathy with socialism, anarchy, or any thing which promises them a larger share of the necessaries and luxuries of life. It is the realization of this that is leading the conservative and wealthy classes of men to combine for the preservation of society upon its present basis, which is found to be favorable to their interests and ambition. They recognize religion as the strongest influence for the peaceable control of humanity; and they see that with the growing intelligence of our day and the growing independence of thought and action, the influence of all the different religious teachings over the lower classes of society is on the decrease; and they begin to fear the results. Hence we have just that condition of things which the Lord predicted (Luke 21:26), men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; because the powers of the heaven (the religious systems) are being shaken. This is true of all Protestant denominations, and increasingly so of the Roman Catholic church also, in which there are various splits progressing. [R1705 : page 296]
The Pope's encyclical is the result of his heart failing him for fear of the things coming; and he expresses the fears and sentiments of many others – Protestants, as well as Catholics, who, neither seeing nor being in harmony with the divine plan, are greatly disconcerted at the evident failure of present arrangements, which they had supposed would usher in the Millennium by converting the world.
As heretofore shown, the Scriptures clearly indicate that just such a combination of religious systems as the Pope advocates will eventually take place, except that it will be in two distinct parts. Catholicism under the Papal head will doubtless absorb the Greek, Armenian and other eastern churches, and quite possibly the high church Episcopalians; the other division being a grand federation of the chief Protestant denominations. And these two great systems, for fear and for self-preservation, will heartily co-operate in order that the "peace and safety" of present institutions and arrangements may be continued. This thought is set forth in the Scriptures in strong symbolic language, and the event is located in this day of wrath and time of trouble: – "Come near, all ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear and all that is therein, the world and all things that come forth of it; for the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations and his fury upon all their armies: he hath condemned them to destruction, he hath delivered them to the slaughter....And all the host of heaven [religious societies] shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together [not in one great roll, but] as a scroll [in two separate divisions or parts, – Catholicism one part and Protestantism the other, in close affiliation and cooperation, so that whatever passes from the one passes to the other]." – See Isa. 34:1-4; also Rev. 6:14-17.
The Scriptures plainly show that the present order and condition of society cannot, even by such combinations of power as proposed, be long sustained, but that shortly after this great religious federation has been perfected, the upheavals of socialism and anarchy will suddenly destroy them and ultimately every vestige of the present system. And no sooner will these elements be thus brought together than they will begin to realize what the Prophet Nahum suggests, that they are thorns in each other's sides: – "What do ye imagine against the Lord? he will make an utter end [of this present order of things]: affliction shall not rise up the second time. For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards [intoxicated with the spirit of this world – the spirit of selfishness and tyranny], they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry." – Nahum 1:9,10.
Thus the way will be prepared for the establishment of a new social arrangement ["the new earth"], on the basis of love and righteousness, and under the influence and control of the glorified Church of Christ (the "new heavens," or spiritual power) in which righteousness and love will control and prevail.
The time of the end simply means the end of the failures and fallacies of man rule; the leveling of present forms of government; the blotting out of present forms of sectarianism; the radical annulment of present forms of business and social usurpation; the destruction of caste and wealth differences; the overthrow of pride, arrogance and sordid ambitions; and the iron – golden rule of King Christ.
But, says one, twenty years is a short time in which to close up all the kingdoms and other governments; all the denominational isms and religious oligarchies and all the other evils of 6,000 years. I reply, it is long enough. The last twenty years have been peaceful but full of preparation – material, mental, spiritual. The stone is rolling; the hill is steepening; the impetus becomes terrible very soon, and twenty years will amply suffice to destroy old things [R1705 : page 297] and fit the earth for the new. – Dan. 2:34.
Most of the distant nations are peaceful to-day. None of them have had war (practically none) for twenty years; all will have war within the next twenty years. The last twenty years have consolidated, but at the same time greatly weakened, sectarianism. Within the next twenty years dogmatism will seek to become despotism in the interest of harmonious settlement and will utterly fail and fall to pieces.
Twenty years ago labor and capital began to organize. To-day they are ready to give each other trouble; within twenty years they will weary each other and the public of the world with incessant strife until labor will droop exhausted with excesses and wealth will be eager to throw away its last dollar and faint in the arms of peace.
Will Christ reign in visible form on earth twenty years from now? Certainly not; Christ on earth eighteen hundred and eighty years ago, was a human being, Christ risen and ascended to his Father is made a divine being far more exalted than spiritual beings and infinitely above the human plane; and yet his elect of the Gospel age are to be so grandly exalted with him as to be "seated with him on his throne, even as he is seated with his Father on his Father's throne" – these partake with him of the divine nature (far above angels) and are to be [R1706 : page 297] with Christ the divine (but invisible) agencies in ruling the world – and in bringing all the nations of the earth, living and resurrected, into acquaintance and spiritual relationship with God during the Millennium of 1000 years.
Who will be the earthly agents of the rule of Christ? Devout men – not any supernatural agencies, except as resurrected men may be regarded as supernatural – for many of these coming rulers will be men who have lived and learned to rule in this world hundreds of years ago.
But the resurrection will be found to be a natural awakening, as death is the natural going into a long breathless sleep. Moses will "stand in his lot in the latter days." So will David, so will Elijah, so will Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel – their reproduction will come about naturally, as the power of electricity always existed although not discovered until recently. The power of reproducing life (God's power in the same sense that all others are God's powers) will be a natural revelation (possibly a natural discovery) within the next twenty years.
Some one asks now: "Are you a prophet?" No, only a student and a watchman. I am taught these things, first, from the Word of God. The five books of Moses are a source of wonderful types, shadows and chronologies. David was a far-seeing prophet as well as a poet and king. Isaiah and all the prophets saw the world's restoration in the Millennial time, but it is Christ and his apostles that convey to me the words that designate the signs in the earth most completely. Then I look round me and see those signs as they have indicated them. The fields are ripe, and the harvesters are at work, and possibly I may live to see the change. In these conclusions I have been assisted by a series of books, called Millennial Dawn, and a periodical called Zion's Watch Tower, which carefully read and mentally prove and compare with the Scriptures. I am not advertising those works, but candor demands their mention when such tremendous predictions are made as I have ventured in this reverie.
"Need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?" – 2 Cor. 3:1.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Brother McPhail has come and gone, and all bear testimony to the benefits derived from his meetings here. He held four meetings at our house and two in West Indianapolis, all but one of which I attended. I feel that I was benefitted by each meeting. At the close of the meeting I expressed my intention of sending in a small contribution to the Tract Fund as a substantial mode of expressing my approval of the new venture, and, without urging the matter, asked all who felt so disposed and who had the ability to do so, to hand to me at the close of the meeting such sums as they felt like contributing towards meeting the extra expense incurred by the Tract Society, in sending out ministers. Our voluntary offering amounted to $12.50, which I enclose.
After the meeting was over, Sister Owen took me to task about taking up a collection, saying [R1706 : page 298] among other things that people had already contributed to the Tract Fund what they felt able to do and that to set the example and thus establish a precedent might prove burdensome to some of the little groups, or at least make them feel that they ought to follow our example, when perhaps they would not be able to do so, and that under such circumstances the visits of brethren might prove to be just the reverse of a blessing. I was quite careful, however, to make all feel that they were entirely free to act just as their feelings and circumstances might dictate.
I wish to say that Brother McPhail did not even hint at a collection being taken, and when some offered to help defray his expenses he refused the money, saying to such, "If you have any thing to give, send it to the Tract Fund."
I wish to make a friendly criticism of the article in last TOWER: "Another Branch of the work." It seems to me that to have the brethren introduce themselves by a certificate of character from the Tract Society is extra cautious, and that your enemies will seize upon this to give coloring to their charges of "Popery," etc.
I fully appreciate the difficulties of your position; my heart goes out to you in love; and I certainly do not feel in the least critical. You, my dear brother, wield a power with the true Church which is remarkable – the result I think of your disinterested service and devotion to its interest, and the absence of any dictatorial spirit on your part. You are and have been indeed the servant of all, and this service makes you master in a way that no other power under the heavens could do. So have a care, brother, lest Satan tempt you to over-cautiousness. Better too much liberty than not enough.
Our dear Brother's solicitude for the interests of Zion, and the kindly way in which he offers his suggestions, are greatly appreciated. But we do not share his fears, and will show that there is no foundation for them. There is surely no real difference between a personal introduction of one brother to another and an introduction of distant brethren by letter. Nor does it alter matters whether the introduction or letter is from one person to another person, or from the Tract Society to many persons, readers of the WATCH TOWER publications. Nor could it make a whit of difference to the travelling brother whether he said, "I call upon you as a representative of Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society," and showed no certificate, or whether he produced a signed letter from the Society, – except that the latter would assure him the warm confidence of the friends, whereas without it there might be a doubt as to whether he was a self-appointed representative of the Tract Society, or whether he was acknowledged as a representative by the Society, through its officers.
Besides, it is expected that the accredited representatives will take many new subscriptions for ZION'S WATCH TOWER from parties newly or more deeply interested through their labors, and a certificate would be an evidence that the stranger who receives the money is truly a representative of Z.W.T.T.S. Some years ago a man took hundreds of TOWER subscriptions and sent the names to us for sample copies merely, and fraudulently retained the money for his own use. We made good all such losses so far as we learned of them, and finally by threats of arrest got the man stopped. Every one knows that there are such characters, and it is not right to expect people to receive strangers into their confidence without some introduction from those they do know.
In the text at the head of this article the Apostle remarks that he did not need letters of introduction; but this was because he was well known by them, their faith being God's workmanship through him; but his words show that he considered himself an exception to the rule, and that he approved as necessary the giving and receiving of letters of commendation, as between teachers and churches visited.
The only dangers we can imagine would be (1) in case the church receiving a brother thus commended should accept his utterances without proper scrutiny and scripture proving; or (2) in case the having a certificate should be considered necessary as an authorization or permission to preach.
We wish to warn all against any such views of our letters of commendation, by whomsoever presented. They do not signify that the owner is an infallible teacher, but that he is one who has written to us of his full sympathy with the eight simple qualifications named in the article in our last issue, headed "Another Branch of the Work," and who stated that he possesses those qualifications by the grace of God; and that the [R1706 : page 299] Tower Tract Society believed him to be a true-hearted brother in Christ, clear in his views of the fundamentals of the Gospel and fully consecrated to the will and service of the Lord.
Nor do these letters of commendation signify that others have not an equal authority from the Lord to preach the Word. The commission to preach, yea, the duty of preaching publicly or privately, orally or by the printed page is upon all who hear, – upon all who receive the truth in the love of it. But you must prove all teachers and teachings before fully receiving them into your hearts. "By their fruits ye shall know them," and by proving their doctrines – measuring both with the letter and the spirit of God's Word.
But such a proving may take considerable time, and if the brother be with you but a day or two and be a stranger, you may hesitate to ask him the plain, simple questions propounded in our last issue, – whether he is a believer in the ransom (in the sense of a corresponding price, its only true significance); and whether he is fully consecrated to the Lord in will and service. On the other hand, if he has a certificate you will at once know that he has confessed all this to the Tract Society's officers as your representatives. We do not say that you should reject or refuse any brother coming to you without our letter of introduction and commendation, but that you may [R1707 : page 299] receive with special readiness and quicker confidence those who do come so introduced; knowing what they have professed and what we believe concerning their character, consecration, etc.
So far from this being a popish method, it is the very reverse; for Papacy affects to give its ministers the right and power to "create Christ" in the mass, and anathematizes all who attempt to teach without its authorization. On the contrary, this introduction by letter, as a safe-guard against "false brethren" and "wolves in sheep's clothing," was the custom of the primitive Church, practiced by the Apostles (See Acts 18:27; Phil. 2:19-25-29; Col. 4:10,11; Philemon 10-17) and mentioned approvingly in the text at the head of this article. Satan would doubtless be glad to drive us from every precautionary measure by a fear of what enemies would say; but we remember that the Lord was called Beelzebub, by those whom Satan deluded and used, and that he forewarned us that they would say all manner of evil falsely against all of his faithful servants. People who have "the spirit of a sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7) will not be deceived by these enemies, who, under the lead of the great enemy, Satan, would fain have us cast away all safe-guards which the word of God and common sense approve, in order that the wolves in sheep's clothing might ravage the flock and fatten themselves.
We here give a copy of these certificates. Notice how simple the statements: the ordination is of God in the Scriptures, and is common to all of his people, and the certificate merely declares that the TRACT SOCIETY recognizes the owner in the capacity named: –
This is to Certify that during the year above written__________of__________, is regularly ordained a minister of the "Church of the Living God" (1 Tim. 3:15; Phil. 4:3); that__________is serving as a Missionary and Evangelist under the auspices of this Society; that__________has full authority to teach and preach publicly and privately, orally and by the printed page; and that__________is authorized to administer to others of the household of faith, upon suitable occasions and after proper confession of faith, the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper – according to all and singular the commands and teachings of this Church as laid down in the Holy Scriptures.
Witness the signatures of the officers of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Allegheny City, Pa., U.S.A., and the corporate seal thereof.
With the exception of four brethren, it is proposed that this work shall have its start from the first of next year. Meantime, we hope to hear from all brethren who have time that they can donate to the Lord in some such service, and who would take pleasure in so doing. We will take pleasure in co-operating with these, to the extent of our judgment of the Lord's will in the matter. But for the sake of uniformity, and for the assurance of the brethren to whom such shall go, we must require of all such a clear, unequivocal declaration that they believe themselves, by the grace of God, possessed of the eight qualifications for this ministry, specified in the Sept. 1 TOWER; because we believe that the child of God who cannot in the fear of God say for himself what is [R1707 : page 300] there simply set forth would be a totally unfit person to commend to the Church as to any extent an instructor in divine things, or as likely to do good rather than harm in his use of the sword of the spirit, the Word of God.
THE movement looking to the colonization of Palestine by Jews of various countries has more to commend it than a sentiment, however laudable that may be. It is of no political importance whatsoever, but it is the outcome of the deliberate purpose of thoughtful men to provide a settlement for Jews, which shall be both sure of success and always under their watchful care and thus free from the many dangers which have made so many other experiments practically failures. This is the aim of the "Lovers of Zion" societies, of which there are so many flourishing in England, and of which we know so little in this country. Yet they can hardly be said to be either visionary or to involve their abettors in schemes of which they must be well ashamed if they pretend to be patriots. Lord Rothschild is one of the many notables in Victoria's realm who have taken the project under their wing with an enthusiasm which means all earnestness.
There is, of course, no little of the Jewish fondness for the land of their fathers in this undertaking, and perhaps not a few hope for a restoration of the glory of Jerusalem, as depicted by the prophets of the Bible, which will include, perhaps, the blood-sacrifices and the royal splendor of the Solomonic period. This is but natural; and the religious enthusiasm is shared by Christians and Mohammedans as well, though, of course, for somewhat different reasons. Still it must be said that of all countries in the world there is none in which so many people have so lively, so direct, an almost personal interest, for which they will, if need be, make sacrifices greater or less in degree. Herein lies the security of any local government which may be established on the historic soil; and from being the fighting pit of the nations of antiquity, it will have guaranteed it an independence which nineteenth century enlightenment and international jealousy will prompt. Thus the colonist will be spared the dangers of civil war and foreign invasion, or if the Turk remain in control, he will have the protection afforded by consuls on the spot.
The prospect of the establishment of a government which, following the prophecy of Isaiah, shall act as the arbiter among the nations, is not seriously considered by the largest number of those active in the movement.
Political hopes are given something far more tangible and practical at this juncture. Nor is the other beautiful idea held to of making Jerusalem's Temple the place of the assembly in which all peoples shall have their common ideal religion. As with Messianic ideas, which likewise it is urged must follow a miraculous interposition and a divine deliverance, this, too, is set aside for the more practical ideas of the colonists.
It has been demonstrated that the soil is sufficiently fertile to maintain colonists, and there is no doubt that the opening up of the railroads and steamships will furnish ample markets. The Jews from being the dromedaries of civilization will take the place of the Phoenicians of history and become the burden bearers of commerce in the same sense that the last great nation was. Not content with building up slowly for future use, some of the more enthusiastic are raising funds to return themselves, as soon as possible, to the Promised Land of milk and honey. They mean to put their theories to a severe test and by heroic measures.
It cannot be that the distance between the older citizens among American Jews and the new-comers is responsible for the lack of interest shown for what is really a big movement in the great cities of the country, for the Lovers of Zion have branches and are collecting money everywhere. The people here know little apparently of it, however, and their indifference takes the form of contempt, and then ofttimes a little side light makes them mistrust it because it is either an attempt, so they say, to compromise them into swearing allegiance to two flags or is visionary and opposed to their doctrinal views or Messianic hopes. The flag of Judah is not to be flung to the breeze shortly, but whereas it has cost tens of thousands of dollars to experiment in the United States and in Argentine, with the result still in doubt, it is hoped to carry successful farming in the sacred land to its furthest point, the Jews can find no safer, no better haven anywhere on the globe. The members of the colonization society do not want the Jews of the world to go en masse, but they would go in small companies themselves. This is an earnest of good faith, and if assistance is needed when the aims and purposes are well understood, money to aid them will be forthcoming.
"If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor." – John 12:26.
But the very reverse of this is the spirit of Christ, whose pleasure it was, in the execution [R1708 : page 301] of God's plan of salvation and blessing, to render the greatest possible service without money and without price – making himself a living sacrifice, not receiving even the thanks, but, on the contrary, the reproaches, of those he served. "If any man serve me, let him follow me," he says. To serve Christ is to enlist under his captaincy in the very service to which he devoted all his energies, even unto death, – the service of mankind along the exact lines of the divine plan. Therefore he refers us to his own sacrificing service. He does not say, Go in yonder way of humiliation and self-sacrificing service; but he says, Come, follow, where I have led the way! I have not despised humble service, and the servant is not greater than his Lord. "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart." A proud spirit cannot follow Christ. The current of thought and feeling must be changed to that of meekness, gentleness and love. The proud, haughty spirit must be converted, and with that conversion will come rest, peace and joy in following the Master's footsteps of faithful, untiring and self-sacrificing service.
Those who despise service, and long for release from all its restraints and its supposed dishonor, never made a greater mistake; for the only men and women worthy of remembrance when they have passed away are those who have faithfully and ably served their fellow-men. It is only such persons whose names come down through history covered with glory, while those who lived in selfish ease were long ago forgotten.
Among the shining lights of the world in their day were such noble servants as Moses, Elijah and Paul – men who braved every danger and hazarded their lives to serve God's purposes in the interests of their fellow-men. Consider Moses, burdened with the care of that mighty host of stiff-necked Israelites: with what indifference to his own ease or rest of mind or body, he gave his whole energy to the service of his people. Then consider Paul, with the care of all the churches upon him, and the great work of spreading the gospel among the Gentiles in the face of determined opposition and persecution which constantly imperilled his life and never allowed him the quiet ease so desirable to all men.
Then, in more recent times, we have the noble examples of reformers and martyrs and guards and defenders of human rights and liberties at immense cost to themselves. Prominent among the latter are the honored names of Washington and Lincoln, two men whom the providence of God evidently raised up in times of great peril and conflict, the former to secure this great American asylum for the oppressed of all nations, and the latter to deliver it from the curse of human slavery and defend it against disunion and disintegration.
With the divine plan in mind, one cannot read the history of this country without seeing in it the over-ruling power of God in providing and keeping in this land, for the elect's sake, a safe asylum where truth untrammelled could be freely disseminated and some measure of the glorious liberty of the sons of God enjoyed. Especially is this noticeable in view of the fact that the harvest work began and centered in this country. Grandly in the dawn of its existence, when it was menaced by a hostile foreign power and by savages within its borders, that noble Christian soldier, George Washington, self-sacrificingly threw himself with all his energies into the breach. Looking to God for help, and urging the nation to do the same, he became the human instrument for the salvation of this nation from the power of oppression. [R1708 : page 302] Then when slavery had defiled the land, and the wails of oppression from four millions of our fellow-creatures came into the ears of the Lord of armies, he raised up Abraham Lincoln, who nobly bore upon his heart and mind the burdens of all the oppressed; and, looking to God and urging the nation to do the same, Lincoln sacrificed himself in the interests of his fellow-men and thus in the service of God.
But aside from these there are many more or less widely known who have considered service an honor, following the example of Christ. "If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be." The reward of a close following of the Lord – partaking of his spirit and entering heartily and self-sacrificingly into his service – is the sharing in due time in his glory and kingdom. "If any man serve me, him will my Father honor." "Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
Those who have proved their devotion to God and to his benevolent plan for the salvation and blessing of humanity will not lose their reward. God's eye is upon all such; he is marking their conduct in all the peculiar circumstances and conditions in which they are placed; and no one who is faithfully and diligently acting his part, however humble that part may be, can escape his notice. All such will receive abundance of honor in due time; but the crown must not be looked for until the cross has been borne to the end. On this side the vail that separates the present from the future lies the pathway of humiliation and self-sacrifice, but beyond are glory and peace and praise and joy forevermore. Beloved, keep the promises in mind that you may gather from them the inspiration you will need more and more as the trials of this present time and service increase in number and severity. – 2 Tim. 2:3; Rom. 6:4,5; 8:17,18; 1 John 3:3.
III. QUAR., LESSON XIII., SEPT. 23, DAN. 1:8-20.
In this lesson we have before us four more of those beautiful characters among the ancient worthies whose examples the Apostles taught us to emulate (Jas. 5:10; Heb. 11.) In these four men we see the grandeur of the fixed purpose of noble and loyal hearts. Severe temptations were set before them, but not for an instant did they sway them from the path of rectitude.
At an early age, at the beginning of the seventy years captivity of Israel in Babylon, they were carried to Babylon and obliged to enter the service of the royal court, where the king's command as to their course of life was such as implied the forsaking of their own religion and their God, even their names being changed to those of idolatrous significance. The luxurious diet of the king, of course, would not be subject to the restrictions of the Jewish law (Lev. 11; Deut. 12:23-25); and this first command, which conflicted with the law of God, they sought if possible to avoid, – no doubt praying God's providential favor to this end.
In this they self-denyingly ignored the luxuries, and ran the risk of encountering the wrath of a despotic king in whose hands was the power of death, to be executed on the merest caprice; while on the other hand his favor was likely to advance them to honorable distinction in the kingdom.
God favored them so that the wrath of the king was not incurred, and they became, to that great Gentile nation, living witnesses of the power and grace of the God of Israel. But the time came in the case of each of these four witnesses when they were called upon to seal their testimony with their blood; and they met those tests of fidelity with an unflinching, resolute purpose. Notwithstanding the king's command to pray to him and to no other god, Daniel still adhered to his usual custom of praying to the true God three times a day with his window open and his face toward Jerusalem; and for his fidelity he calmly yielded to the persecuting spirit which cast him into a [R1708 : page 303] den of lions. His three companions with equal fortitude refused to worship the golden image which Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and paid the penalty by going into a burning, fiery furnace, saying, Our God is able to deliver us if it please him, but, leaving the matter of deliverance or destruction to his will, of one thing we are sure, We will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
What heroic examples of godly zeal and fortitude, and of friendship cemented by the bonds of a common noble purpose. Four young men devoted to God mutually agree to set their faces like a flint against temptation, and to live righteously and godly in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; and truly they have shone as lights, not only in their own day, but down even to the present time. In youth they chose the right ways of the Lord, and they gave a life-long testimony to the praise of his grace.
Let our purpose be like theirs, and as the Psalmist expresses it, – "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed." – Psa. 57:7. page 303
III. QUAR., LESSON XIV., SEPT. 30.
A thoughtful, reverent, prayerful review of the lessons of this quarter on the incidents and teachings of our Lord's earthly life cannot fail to bring the soul into fuller sympathy and fellowship with him, and thus prepare us for his Kingdom, now so close at hand, – not merely in its embryo condition, but in its completeness and glory.
Acting on your advice in Z.W.T., I have been attending the various meetings held here on Sunday, that I may thereby get acquainted with some of the Lord's children and give them a tract or DAWN. I have not only had just such opportunity, but also the privilege to lead the Y.M.C.A. meeting one Sunday; and although the subject provided hedged me in considerably, yet I managed to give them some truth on the ransom, and how it was necessary for [R1709 : page 303] Christ to suffer. Following is the lesson:
Great in physical strength.
(a) Slays the lion and the bear. –
1 Sam. 17:36.
(b) Slays the giant. – 1 Sam. 17:48-50.
Great in his loyalty to his king. –
1 Sam. 26:7-12.
Great in his high position.
Elevated to the throne. – 2 Sam. 2:4.
Great in God's estimation.
A man after his own heart. – 1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22.
True greatness does not consist in what
we possess, but in what we are.
We may never be kings, but all may be kingly.
David's greatness consisted in his willingness
to submit himself to God.
His constant prayer was "Teach me thy
Christ is the most perfect example of
Christ is the most perfect example of
His character is love.
Love is always patient, always gentle –
Love is always great. If we would be
great, we must allow the love and gentleness
of Christ to lead us.
If our lives are entirely submitted to him, we cannot limit his power to usward. Christ's pattern of greatness. – Matt. 18:4. Gentleness the fruit of the spirit. – Gal. 5:22. Study lives of Moses, Paul, Peter, John, Joshua and others.
Yesterday I was called again to make a few remarks after the paper read by the leader. (Subject: Jesus, the young man's best friend.) I opened the Scriptures at Rom. 5:7,8, showing them in which way Jesus was the young man's friend, and also friend to all them who by faith appropriate to themselves the merits of his sacrifice. I also explained the "equivalent price," and its necessity.
Going to the Presbyterian church, I was delighted to hear an old minister preaching the unvarnished truth from the text, "If [R1709 : page 304] any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross," etc. His prayers were short and very good, and the burden of them was to be guided by God's Word, his truth, that he may have no opinions of his own. You can imagine how my heart warmed toward him. Since then I have become very friendly with him, and have found him to be very well posted in truth, and waiting with expectancy the return of our Lord and Master. I had quite a talk with him on this truth. He gave me a book to read, and I gave him in exchange DAWN, VOL. II. I know it is against your advice, but I thought that, as he was deeply interested in the coming of Christ, and as he was greatly pleased with the tract, "Do You Know," he may have his appetite whetted for more and so get ready for VOL. I. And my conclusions were correct: he is deeply interested, and is hurrying up to get it. I pray he may have his prayer answered, just to know God's way and not his own opinions; and I pray that I may be kept humble, knowing how many have stumbled over spiritual pride.
Yours in Christian love,
[Such methods we commend to all – in proportion as they possess the requisite ability. Each one blessed by the truth should feel it his privilege as well as his duty to serve it and his fellow-pilgrims to the Heavenly Kingdom. He whose heart does not burn with a desire to tell the good tidings either has not learned it or else has received only its letter and not its spirit. But all should remember the Lord's caution "Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves;" and the Apostle's admonition to speak the truth in love. Such efforts for those who are yet in darkness are well supplemented by weekly gatherings for prayer, praise and interchange of testimony by those who have emerged into the "marvelous light" of present truth. – EDITOR.]
DEAR BROTHER: – In regard to yourself and work, I want to say I am in perfect accord. Since reading DAWN, VOL. I., I have had mingled feelings of joy and sadness: Sadness that I was so long in darkness, and joy that the light has dawned upon me. The DAWNS and TOWERS are a continual blessing to us. I say to us, for I am glad to tell you that my dear wife has also, after due consideration, embraced the truth. So you see I have great cause for gratitude. Together we can study and plan little deeds that we think may be of help to some one. We agree with you that the time is short, and that what we do must be done quickly.
I have consecrated my time, talents, voice, pen and all to God and the spread of present truth – "meat in due season," and I am glad to be able to say that (since doing this) God has led me in a wonderful way; and we rejoice that through our humble efforts many have been led to a serious consideration of this most important truth. For the past year we have been holding an unsectarian meeting for gospel purposes and Bible study. The numbers have kept up fairly well, and the interest has always been good. Our meetings are attended by a mixed class: many who were never interested in the gospel and some of the different shades of Adventists. All are made welcome. They listen with a good deal of interest, and sometimes take a minor part. The doctrines of the ransom and the restitution are always kept prominent. We use blackboard and chart, and alway try to vary our meeting. Other work consists in tract distribution, loaning of DAWNS, answering enquiries (sometimes in writing), visiting in a quiet way, engaging those in conversation whom we think will be interested. It is indeed a great work, and we are so glad that we have a fair field. Some disappointment has been expressed at our not seeking a church home. Two pastors visited us, and received in plain talk from God's Word some good reasons for our course. Dear Brother, observation proves more and more that "Babylon" is fallen. What a mercy to be delivered! On Sunday, Aug. 5, our subject will be, The National Restoration of Israel (in accordance to VOL. III., Chap. 8); the next Sunday, The Signs of the Times.
I hope and pray that you will long be spared, and that we, as co-workers with God in this glorious harvest work, may be faithful, and led to glorious victory at last. "Do You Know," we think is especially good. I do not expect an answer. This is only a little by way of greeting to you and Sister Russell. Yours in the work,