|VOL. XVI.||SEPTEMBER 1, 1895.||No. 17.|
|Items, – Tabernacle Shadows||198|
|" Dawn Vol. II, in Dano-Norwegian||198|
|Views from the Tower||199|
|Sobriety, Vigilance, Steadfastness||200|
|Peace! Perfect Peace! – Poem||202|
|"Remember Lot's Wife."||202|
|"They Had All Things in Common"||204|
|Bible Study: Caleb's Reward||206|
|Bible Study: The Cities of Refuge||208|
'I will stand upon my watch, and set my foot upon the Tower, and will watch to see what He shall say unto me, and what answer I shall make to them that oppose me.' Hab. 2:1
Upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity: the sea and the waves (the restless, discontented) roaring: men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking forward to the things coming upon the earth (society): for the powers of the heavens (ecclestiasticism) shall be shaken. . . .When ye see these things come to pass, then know that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Look up, lift up your heads, rejoice, for your redemption draweth nigh. – Luke 21:25-28, 32.
It stands free from all parties, sects and creeds of men, while it seeks more and more to bring its every utterance into fullest subjection to the will of God in Christ, as expressed in the Holy Scriptures. It is thus free to declare boldly whatsoever the Lord hath spoken; – according to the divine wisdom granted unto us, to understand. Its attitude is not dogmatical, but confident; for we know whereof we affirm, treading with implicit faith upon the sure promises of God. It is held as a trust, to be used only in his service; hence our decisions relative to what may and what may not appear in its columns must be according to our judgment of his good pleasure, the teaching of his Word, for the upbuilding of his people in grace and knowledge. And we not only invite but urge our readers to prove all its utterances by the infallible Word to which reference is constantly made, to facilitate such testing.
Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accident, or other adversity are unable to pay for the TOWER will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
Many of the truths of the Gospel were "preached beforehand" in the types and shadows of the Jewish economy. In the service of the tabernacle in the wilderness were embodied the principles of the entire plan of salvation, based upon the sacrifice of Christ, as 7represented in the bullock whose blood, sprinkled upon the mercy seat, made atonement.
The significance of each article in the tabernacle, as well as of the sacrifices made therein, is set forth in TABERNACLE SHADOWS OF BETTER SACRIFICES, a pamphlet of 104 pages, leatherette bound, illustrated. Price 10 cents, postpaid; 75 cents per dozen.
Although the cost of these foreign translations is much greater than the English, because the demand is less and the editions smaller, yet the price of MILLENNIAL DAWN in the German, Swedish and Dano-Norwegian languages will be uniform with the English. Some warm-hearted friends of the Truth, knowing that the English editions are sold at cost, and realizing that the foreign editions would cost nearly double, because smaller, volunteered to pay the difference through the Tract Fund, so that the foreigners, who often are less able to purchase, might have the benefit of the low prices of the English. Their donation amounts to four hundred and twenty dollars on each foreign volume.
IT is not at all improbable that the killing of missionaries in China may lead to a Chinese war in which Great Britain will take a hand, and that event might be considered by Japan opportune for a resistance of Russian interference, and the result might be another war. Such conditions would bring increased prosperity to the United States and Europe for three or four years, supplying munitions of war, etc., and this would put off the financial pressure and great time of trouble a little while. Then the awakening and opening up of China would put her millions of cunning imitators into competition with the mechanics of civilized lands and ultimately make the pressure upon labor all the heavier.
Meantime a great reaction is taking place both in England and France, against radical socialism and in favor of conservatism, as shown by recent elections. Not for a long time before has the majority in the English House of Commons been of the Tory party.
But the reaction is less than it seems on its face to be: in fact, the Tory party has abandoned its old lines, and while retaining its old name it is really a "moderate" party in every sense. And so long as financial conditions are at all bearable the majority of the people in all civilized lands prefer to have the judgment and management of affairs in the hands of the well educated and well-to-do, rather than risk the untried schemes of political novices. We may reasonably expect, therefore, that we will see comparative quiet and prosperity for the next few years, to be followed by a greater depression and a socialistic reaction.
In the United States, as well as in Great Britain, the growing tendency in religious circles is to ignore doctrines and to make morality and conservatism the tests of fellowship. In both countries there is an increasing tendency to unite for the "purifying of politics," on the "liquor question," etc. For instance, take the following clipped from the daily press:
"Cleveland, O., Aug. 22. – An important circular signed by every presiding elder of the Methodist church in Ohio has been sent to the members of that denomination throughout the state. It calls for united political action on the part of all Methodists in an effort to elect to the next legislature as many members as possible who will fight the saloons. The circular states that 'special services' will be called for by the elders in this connection in every Methodist church in Ohio."
"At Ayer yesterday thirty-one clergymen, representing six denominations, Baptist, Congregationalist, Roman Catholic, German Evangelical, Unitarian and Universalist, organized a ministerial union to be known as the United Religious Association, the object of which is 'fellowship and acquaintance with each other's religious doctrines, local cooperation with each other on the basis of love to God and man, and to the furtherance of all social reforms and the bringing in of the kingdom of God.' Rev. P. A. McKenna, of the Catholic church at Marlboro, said that he was present with the willing consent of Vicar General Byrne, in the absence of the archbishop, and expressed the most cordial interest in the objects of the association. He was especially emphatic in his Americanism and was heartily applauded by his Protestant associates."
It is remarkable that at a time when the so-called "higher critics" and "advanced religious thinkers" are tearing in pieces the Scriptures and discarding the very foundation of all Christian faith, the great sin-offering given by our Redeemer for the sins of the world, we find some defenders of the Bible and the true faith where we [R1858 : page 200] might not have thought to look for them. The following is a portion of a letter written not long since by Rev. Morgan Dix, D.D., pastor of Trinity Church, New York, to Rev. C. Gauss of the Prof. Epis. Theol. Seminary near Alexandria, Va., and published by the latter's consent in the N.Y. Tribune, as follows: –
"The recent startling appearance of pantheistic teachers in our Church in the person of liberal theologians so-called, the open denial of several of the facts stated in the creed, the contemptuous repudiation of the authority of our Church, the substitution of ideas derived from the philosophy of evolution for the doctrine of the Gospel as the Church has received the same, and the avowed determination to throw the ordination vow to the winds, and freely to proclaim whatever views the individual minister may evolve from year to year, and from day to day, out of his own consciousness – these signs of the hour increase my respect for the men of the old school, who hold, simply and sincerely, the inspiration of the sacred Scriptures, the destructive properties of sin, the need of atonement for sin through the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and the power of divine grace as the sole agency which can put health and strength into the enfeebled and corrupted nature of men. Thus am I, like many others of my own school, in stronger sympathy with the men at Alexandria than they perhaps suspect; believing that we are fighting the same battle for God in Christ against a world fallen and out of Christ, and that we are aiming substantially at one and the same end. It looks as if society was preparing to rise up in general revolt against the Gospel as we have learned it from the Apostles of Jesus Christ, and the Church which he has made the witness and keeper of his revelation. If it does, so much the worse for society. I am very truly yours,
Some fifteen years ago Chile found that the Jesuits were its worst foes and put an end to clerical interference in politics, etc., although the population and government are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. But the present pope has smoothed out the difficulty and gotten government and people to forget the injury previously inflicted and to return into sympathy with the Papal authorities. Chile has sent an Ambassador Extraordinary to Rome and in every way is prepared to forget the past and return gradually to a condition as bad as before, or worse.
Effort is being made to have Mexico, whose experience was similar, also to return to the evil control of Papacy. It is the constant scheme at Rome to get back the absolute control of the people formerly held by the Papal clergy. A movement is on foot to have the Mexican government consent to the coming of a Papal Nuncio, with powers similar to those of Mgr. Satolli in the United States.
The effort to capture Great Britain for Rome is meeting [R1859 : page 200] with considerable opposition. Writing against the union of the Church of England with the Church of Rome the Dean of Canterbury says:
"Great as is the evil of division, let us be sure that it is incomparably less than that of such a spurious, hollow, artificial unity as is held out by the See of Rome, unity purchased by the subjection of reason and conscience to the arbitrary decrees of a self-styled infallible human authority."
The eight thousand members of the St. Adelbert Roman Catholic Church of Buffalo, N.Y., who have rebelled against the arbitrary rules of the bishop, have decided to secede and organize as an Independent Catholic Church. We learn that these are in sympathy, at least in harmony, with the Polish seceders at Cleveland, mentioned some time since.
A Madrid cablegram of Aug. 18 tells that as the Spanish troops were embarking for the reinforcement of the army in Cuba, the Archbishop declared that the Pope like a new Moses had raised his hands toward heaven and was praying that the Angel of Victory might accompany the Spanish army.
We are well aware that the Pope's prayers are usually with the oppressors in every clime; but in the days of Pope Leo IX. it became proverbial that people and ships which he blessed usually met with disaster.
Ah, how much the world needs the real Pope, the real Anointed One, our Lord Jesus, with the true Church, the Royal Priesthood, to take control of the world as the promised priest after the order of Melchizedek – a priest upon his throne. "Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth as in heaven."
– 1 Pet. 5:8,9. –
The "brotherhood" includes all the soldiers of Christ throughout the world, and this symbol of their present character is not a mere empty sound; for there is a mighty conflict in progress, a war being waged, and the encounter is one of desperate earnestness. Those who know nothing of this great conflict, and who have no part in it, though they may bear the name of Christ – Christians – really have [R1859 : page 201] no right to that name; for they are not Christ's soldiers. Jesus himself was a soldier, and fought the battle through to the bitter end, and gained the victory. And he is the Captain of all those who accept the redemption he purchased and that follow in his footsteps, and he will lead them on to certain victory, if they faint not. – Gal. 6:9.
The Apostle Paul gives the same idea of the Christian life. He represents it as a desperate warfare, and urges all the true soldiers of Christ to "put on the whole armor of God, that they may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil; for," says he, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places....Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness," etc. – Eph. 6:10-18.
When we consider how strongly our adversary is intrenched in the world – in its ideas, its maxims, its institutions, its policy, its hopes, aims and ambitions – and the Christian life as in direct opposition to all these; and when we further consider how, because we were once partakers of the spirit of the world, the enemy of our souls has strongly intrenched himself in our weak fallen natures; and still further, how, with shrewd subtlety, this invisible, intelligent personal foe is plotting and scheming to allure, deceive and lead us into sin – when with sober judgment we consider all these things, then indeed we realize that we are in the midst of a great conflict.
The three points of attack by the enemy are, as the Apostle John (1 John 2:16) enumerates them, "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life."
The first of these includes all those appetites and passions common to the whole human family, which in their legitimate uses under the full control of reason and conscience, are right and proper, but which, unduly cultivated until they become the masters of reason and conscience, degrade and debase the man.
The second, – "the lust of the eyes," – includes all those ambitions to acquire and possess whatsoever things the eye (the natural eye or the eye of the understanding) perceives to be good; i.e., to be gratifying to the carnal mind, the old unregenerate nature. This disposition impels to self-gratification regardless of the rights and liberties of others in any direction. It craves wealth, or fame, or power, or social distinction, and to these ends it inclines to harness every energy of mind and body.
The third, – "the pride of life," – is the blossom of selfishness, so abhorrent to God and to all good men. It is that disposition in a man which glories in his shame. When the lusts of the flesh and the lusts of the eyes have brought their curse of narrowness, bigotry and conceit; and when they have gone further in depriving fellow-men of their rights and privileges, then pride, the exultation of meanness, has its short triumph, and loftily soars above the unfortunate subjects of its power and gloats over the desolation it has wrought.
These three points of attack by the great enemy are the points which the Lord would have us guard with unwearied vigilance. Be sober, be vigilant, and watch that the enemy gain no approach to the citadel of your heart by any one of these routes.
That he makes repeated attacks is certain; and that these attacks come suddenly and without warning, and often with terrible force, is a matter of experience with all: hence the necessity for sober and constant vigilance. Be assured the ever watchful enemy will take advantage of our unguarded moments and our unfortified conditions if such there be. Even with all the watchfulness and readiness which we can command, the ability to withstand the enemy and to resist his attacks causes more or less suffering, and often taxes the powers of endurance to the utmost. Indeed, we must expect that the tension on our powers of endurance will sometimes be so great as to threaten disruption, and as to surely cause it if we trust to our own strength. We are forewarned to think not strange of the fiery trial that shall surely try us if we are indeed the sons of God and soldiers of Christ, as though some strange thing happened unto us. (1 Pet. 4:12-16.) These things should be expected and carefully prepared for by the Christian soldier.
Peter intimates that the power by which we are to resist the adversary is the power of faith – "whom resist, steadfast in the faith." And John expresses the same thought, saying, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:4.) If we are not strong in the faith, how can we endure hardness for it? Faith must grasp the exceeding great and precious promises of God and appreciate their value. Faith must lay hold also upon the power of God and find the grace to help in every time of need. And faith in a personal righteous God, whose eye is ever upon us, must steadily cultivate those elements of character which are always pleasing and acceptable to him, and which Peter tells us are most essential to our final overcoming in this warfare. – 2 Pet. 1:5-10.
He urges that, in addition to our faith in the exceeding great and precious promises which inspire zeal and give us renewed courage, we should give all diligence to add to our faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity." Then he adds, "For if ye do these things, ye shall never fall."
The steady persistent cultivation of these graces of character will also clarify our spiritual vision, enabling us the more fully to comprehend the truth of God, and thus, "by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left," we shall be able to "withstand all the fiery darts of the adversary" and to win the victory of faith and make our calling and election sure.
With this view of the great battle of life to the Christian, what a work we realize to be before us, and what necessity for sobriety, vigilance and steadfastness! It is a life work, a life battle against a mighty foe intrenched in our flesh. [R1859 : page 202] The powers without are strong indeed, but the civil war with the powers within is by far the most to be dreaded. If we become in any measure intoxicated with the spirit of the world; – if we give way to self-gratification, love of ease, pleasure, a little indulgence of any [R1860 : page 202] of the old dispositions of envy, malice, pride, vain-glory, vaunting of self, headiness, highmindedness, wrath, strife, or any such thing – even a little, Oh, how great is the peril to which we are exposed!
Beloved, let us war a good warfare against the world, the flesh and the devil, seeking and finding, daily and hourly, fresh supplies of grace; for every day and every hour is a time of need if we are but awake to realize it. It is to the warfare with the powers intrenched within that we are again referred, when it is said, "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." (Prov. 16:32.) Yes, the task is a greater one, and represents a greater, as well as a nobler, effort. Let us fight the good fight of faith along this line. Let our lives be a daily and hourly struggle to overcome the evil that is in ourselves, to purify and beautify our own characters. Thus shall we be the more fully prepared to strive faithfully and steadily against the foes without – to war a good warfare to the end.
The Apostle, out of the fulness of his love and sympathy for all his comrades in the army of the Lord, adds to his earnest exhortation this parting benediction – "The God of all grace who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." It is only through endurance of hardness as good soldiers of Christ that this desirable condition can be attained – viz., perfect self-control and ability to resist evil, established faith, patience and virtue, settled, abiding rest in Christ, and hope through his word of promise. This undoubtedly was the Apostle's own experience as he grew old in the Master's service, and so may it be ours. Let each departing year find us nearer the glorious summit of perfection!
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee; because he trusteth in Thee." – Isa. 26:3.
Peace! perfect peace! in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.
Peace! perfect peace! by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.
Peace! perfect peace! with sorrows surging 'round?
On Jesus' bosom nought but calm is found.
Peace! perfect peace! 'mid suffering's keenest throes?
The sympathy of Jesus brings repose.
Peace! perfect peace! with loved ones far away?
In Jesus' keeping we are safe, and they.
Peace! perfect peace! our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and he is on the throne.
Peace! perfect peace! death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers.
It is enough: earth's struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus call us to heaven's perfect peace.
IT WAS in connection with our Master's prophetic warnings respecting the trials of the present day that he used the words, "Remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:32); and their significance should be comprehended by all who are walking in the light.
The lesson is that those who, under the special guidance of the Lord, are now fleeing for life to the mountain of the Lord's Kingdom, will be held to a much stricter account than others. Lot and his family were not accused of sharing the evil practices of the Sodomites: his wife's outward fault was merely that of looking back; but we may reasonably suppose that this implied a heart out of harmony with her deliverance and in some degree sympathetic with the evil things and evil people which God had condemned as unworthy of life. She at heart clung to the accursed things, even though she did not outwardly return to them, but fled from them; and therefore God brought her no further. She became a monument of the folly of sympathizing with evil-doers after knowing that God has given them up.
Quite a number now need to have their attention called to the antitype of this incident referred to by our Lord as typical. Quite a number are disposed to sympathize and fraternize with those who are under divine condemnation now, and as such sentenced to the second death, destruction, typified by the destruction of Sodom, which we are directly told was "set forth as an example" or type. – Jude 7.
Those who assume to be more gracious and long suffering than the Lord make of themselves opponents, who, instead of being students of the principles of righteousness, attempt to be judges and teachers of Jehovah. The proper attitude of heart accepts God's conduct as not only wiser, but more just than our own; and consequently when we see any who have ever enjoyed the light of present truth abandoned by the Lord and led into outer-darkness, [R1860 : page 203] we are to conclude that before being thus abandoned there must have been in them "an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God." "He is faithful who hath promised," "If any man will do my Father's will, he shall know of my doctrine." Whoever therefore loses the doctrines of Christ after once having had them, has surely done more than get his head confused. His heart had separated from the Lord's ways previously; for as long as we abide in him as his "elect," it will not be possible for any of the snares of this evil day to entrap us, and none shall pluck us out of the hand of the Lord our Shepherd.
It is proper for us to be watchful of each other's welfare doctrinally as well as otherwise. When we see a brother walking contrary to the Lord's instruction into the snare of the wicked, we are to "have compassion," and while praying for him we are to use our best judgment as to how to help him, "making a difference" according to the circumstances of the case. Some should be dealt with energetically – "pulling them out of the fire." (Jude 22,23.) But while we should always be on the alert to render assistance whenever needed, to convert a brother from the error of his ways (James 5:19,20), we should make no such effort for him as would tend to make us fall from our own steadfastness into the error of the wicked. – 2 Pet. 3:17.
When we see others walking in forbidden paths, in the way of transgressors, we are not to follow them there in order to help them out; but to show them the right path by keeping in it and calling to them. When we see some confusing themselves with doctrines and teachings of men, when they know that they are fundamentally wrong, we are not to wade through those doctrines in order to help them out; but we are to remind them that the study of any doctrine which will not square with the foundation is not only a misuse of consecrated time, but that all trifling with that which we know to be error is wrong and dangerous, as all violations of conscience and principle are dangerous.
For instance, at the very foundation of all Christian doctrine lies the doctrine of the ransom. It implies that God is holy and man a sinner. It implies that God is just as well as loving. It implies recovery or restitution, as well as a fall into sin and death. Any teaching, therefore, which either openly denies, or quietly ignores, the "ransom for all, to be testified in due time," must be a doctrine at variance with the doctrines of God's revelation, whether it be old or new, whether advocated by friends or foes, the learned or the unlearned, in the name of evolution or in some other name. Our attitude toward it should be prompt and decided opposition. If others waver we who have learned that this is the test by which all things are to be proved need not waver. If friends get into the quicksands of no-ransom errors, whose name now is legion, and which are growing continually, we should lend them a helping hand to get out, "pulling them out of the fire," by reminding them of the Rock Christ Jesus, whereon our feet of faith are firmly established, and throwing to them the rope of divine promises throughout which is woven the scarlet thread of the ransom, and exhort them to come back to the rock and not attempt to find another rock at the bottom of the quicksands. And we must use great plainness of speech in showing them their danger and in pointing out their way of escape.
We must not accept their invitation to join with them in exploring what men can say or write which would tend to make the Word of God of none effect, which would claim that God has all along been the sinner and man his dupe; or that the hope of mankind is in their own evolution and not in the ransom and restitution of Scripture; or that he who redeemed will not be the same who will, as the Good Physician, restore and bless all who will accept his grace "in due time." If, after kind and faithful remonstrance on your part, they still persist in exploring and delving into such evident contradictions of God's Word, let them go. Remember that there must be something wrong at their hearts, else they would have no pleasure in the unfruitful works of darkness, but would rather reprove them; and their delight would be in the great divine plan of the ages. (Psa. 1:1-6.) Remember, too, that God has promised to keep and guide the minds of those whose hearts are loyal and true to him. We should, therefore, conclude that if the Lord is either thrusting any one out of the light, as unworthy of it, into the outer darkness of the world, or if he is permitting unfaithful ones to be seduced by the great enemy, it is not our mission to follow them into the outer darkness in conversation, reading, etc., but to remain with the Lord and with those who walk in the light, and to seek others to take the places and the crowns of those who deny or ignore the precious blood of the covenant wherewith once they were sanctified. – Rev. 3:11; Heb. 10:29-31.
Neither are we to waste sympathy upon those who depart. If we can neither persuade them nor pull them out of the fire, we must let them go, and should turn at once and render aid to others more worthy. When the Lord has put any one out of the light (Matt. 22:13,14), we cannot hope to bring them back. Had it been proper for them to stay in the light he would not have permitted them to be put out of it.
We do not here refer to slight differences in understanding which should be patiently dealt with, and explained or overlooked, as all the children of one school have not [R1861 : page 203] attained to the same "step" or degree of knowledge; but we do refer to those radical differences, all of which may be quickly proved by the test of the ransom doctrine. If they agree not with this, it is because there is no light in them. And such are to be to us no longer brothers in Christ, but should be considered and treated as of the world – "as a heathen man or a publican." Such are not to be numbered among our friends; for the friendship of such is enmity against God. We are not to receive or entertain such at our houses, nor to bid them or their work God-speed in any manner. (2 John 8-11.) Some [R1861 : page 204] who have neglected the plain statement of God's Word on this subject have suffered spiritually for their disobedience.
Let us more and more be of one mind with the Lord. His friends only must be our friends; his enemies only our enemies. If we affiliate with the Lord's enemies we will at least get into a lukewarm condition towards him and his friends; and the lukewarm he will spew out of his mouth. And we want to cultivate warmth of heart toward all who trust in the precious blood and are consecrated to our Redeemer as the only Lord. There must be no lukewarmness there. Whatever their peculiarities according to the flesh, we cannot be otherwise than "brothers" to them in spirit, with all that helpfulness and sympathy which brotherhood in and with Christ implies.
But we will not, must not, cannot have any fellowship with the ungodly, the sinner against light and truth, nor the scorners of the grace of God. Whoever are our Lord's enemies must be our enemies, because enemies of the light, the truth, the way: and although if they are destitute we should feed them (Rom. 12:20), yet so long as they are the opponents and adversaries of the Lord's cause, of which Christ and his cross are the centre, they are our adversaries and we theirs. The Lord loves positiveness with harmlessness, and of us it should be true, as it is prophetically written of our Lord and the true members of his body in Psalm 139:16-24.
Whoever therefore is being led of the Lord's messengers to the place of safety, as were Lot and his family delivered from the destruction of Sodom, let him "remember Lot's wife" and not look back or otherwise manifest sympathy with those whom the Lord has condemned and abandoned to destruction.
"And all that believed were together, and had all things in common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people." – Acts 2:44-47.
Then we learned, not only that the weaknesses of the flesh of other men had to be taken into account, but that our own weaknesses of the flesh needed constant guarding. We found that whilst all had shared Adam's fall, all had not fallen alike, or in exactly the same particulars. All have fallen from God's likeness and spirit of love, to Satan's likeness and spirit of selfishness: and as love has diversities of operation, so has selfishness. Consequently, selfishness working in one has wrought a desire for ease, sloth, indolence; in another it produced energy, labor for the pleasures of this life, self-gratification, etc.
Among those actively selfish some take self-gratification in amassing a fortune, and having it said, He is wealthy; others gratify their selfishness by seeking honor of men; others in dress, others in travel, others in debauchery and the lowest and meanest forms of selfishness.
Each one begotten to the new life in Christ, with its new spirit of love, finds a conflict begun, fightings within and without; for the new spirit wars with whatever form of selfishness or depravity formerly had control of us. The new "mind of Christ," whose principles are justice and love, asserts itself; and reminds the will that it has assented to and covenanted this change. The desires of the flesh (the selfish desires, whatever their bent), aided by the outside influences of friends, argue and discuss the question; urging that no radical measures must be taken – that such a course would be foolish, insane, impossible. The flesh insists that the old course cannot be changed, but will agree to slight modifications, and to do nothing as extreme as before.
The vast majority of God's people seem to agree to this partnership, which is really still the reign of selfishness. But others insist that the spirit or mind of Christ shall have the control. The battle which ensues is a hard one (Gal. 5:16,17); but the new will conquers, and self, with its own selfishness, or depraved desires, is reckoned dead. – Col. 2:20; 3:3; Rom. 6:2-8.
But does this end the battle forever? No; –
"Ne'er think the victory won,
Nor once at ease sit down;
Thine arduous task will not be done
Till thou shalt gain thy crown."
Ah, yes! we must renew the battle daily, and help divine implore and receive, that we may finish our course with joy. We must not only conquer self, but as the Apostle did, we must keep our bodies under. (1 Cor. 9:27.) And this, our experience, that we must be constantly on the alert against the spirit of selfishness, and to support and promote in ourselves the spirit of love, is the experience of all who likewise have "put on Christ" and taken his will to be theirs. Hence the propriety of the Apostle's remark, [R1861 : page 205] "Henceforth know we no man [in Christ] after the flesh." We know those in Christ according to their new spirit, and not according to their fallen flesh. And if we see them fail sometimes, or always to some degree, and yet see evidences that the new mind is wrestling for the mastery, we are properly disposed to sympathize rather than to berate for little failures; "remembering ourselves lest we also be tempted [of our old selfish nature in violation of some of the requirements of the perfect law of Love]."
Under "the present distress," therefore, while each has all that he can do to keep his own body under and the spirit of love in control, sound judgment as well as experience and the Bible tells us that we would best not complicate matters by attempting communistic schemes; but each make as straight paths as possible for his own feet, that that which is lame in our fallen flesh be not turned entirely out of the way, but that it be healed.
(1) Sound Judgment says that if the saints with divine help have a constant battle to keep selfishness subject to love, a promiscuous colony or communism would certainly not succeed in ruling itself by a law utterly foreign to the spirit of the great majority of its members. And it would be impossible to establish a communism of saints only, because we cannot read the hearts – only "the Lord knoweth them that are his." And if such a colony of saints could be gotten together, and if it should prosper with all things in common, all sorts of evil persons would seek to get their possessions or to share them; and if successfully excluded they would say all manner of evil against them; and so, if it held together at all, the enterprise would not be a real success.
Some saints, as well as many of the world, are so fallen into selfish indolence that nothing but necessity will help them to be, "not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." And many others are so selfishly ambitious that they need the buffetings of failure and adversity to mellow them and enable them to sympathize with others; or even to bring them to deal justly with others.
Such communities, if left to the rule of the majority, would sink to the level of the majority; for the progressive, active minority, finding that nothing could be gained by energy and thrift, over carelessness and sloth, would also grow careless and indolent. If governed by organizers of strong will, as Life Trustees and Managers, on a paternal principle, the result would be more favorable financially; but the masses, deprived of personal responsibility, would degenerate into mere tools and slaves of the Trustees.
To sound judgment it therefore appears, that the method [R1862 : page 205] of individualism, with its liberty and responsibility, is the best one for the development of intelligent beings; even though it may work hardships many times to all, and sometimes to many.
Sound judgment can see that if the Millennial Kingdom were established in the earth, with the divine rulers then promised, backed by unerring wisdom and full power to use it, laying "judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet," and ruling not by consent of majorities, but by righteous judgment, and as "with a rod of iron" – then communism could succeed; probably it would be the very best condition, and if so it will be the method chosen by the King of kings. But for that we wait; and not having the power or the wisdom to use such theocratic power, the spirit of a sound mind simply bides the Lord's time, praying meanwhile, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." And after Christ's Kingdom shall have brought all the willing back to God and righteousness, and shall have destroyed all the unwilling, then, with love the rule on earth as it is in heaven, we may suppose that men will share heaven's mercies in common, as do the angels now.
(2) Experience proves the failure of communistic methods in the present time. There have been several such communities tried for many years; and the result has always been failure. The Oneida Community of New York is one, whose failure has long been recognized by sensible people. Another, the Harmony Society of Pennsylvania, soon showed that the hopes of its founders met failure, for so much discord prevailed that it divided. The split-off, known as Economites, also located near Pittsburg. It flourished for a while, after a fashion, but it is now quite withered; and possession of its property is now being disputed in the Society and in the courts of law. The leading men in the Community have about died out, and the unintelligent and ambitionless who clung to them for a home, a living and a head, are likely to be gulled into the control of Cyrus Teed, a false Christ, who would like to handle their money. And other societies are starting now, which will be far less successful than these, because the times are different: independence is greater, respect and reverence is less, majorities will rule, and without wiser leaders are sure to fail. Wise worldly leaders are looking out for themselves, while wise Christians are busy in other channels, – obeying the command, "Go thou and preach the gospel."
(3) The Bible does not teach Communism, but does teach loving considerate Individualism, except in the sense of family communism – each family acting as a unit, of which the father is the head and the wife one with him, his fellow-heir of the grace of life, his partner in every joy and benefit as well as in every adversity and sorrow.
True, God permitted a communistic arrangement in the primitive Church, referred to at the beginning of this article; but this may have been for the purpose of illustrating to us the unwisdom of the method; and lest some, thinking of the scheme now, should conclude that the apostles did not command and organize communities, because they lacked the wisdom to concoct and carry out such methods. For not a word can be quoted from our Lord or the apostles advocating the communistic principles; but much to the contrary.
True, the Apostle Peter (and probably others) knew of and cooperated in that first communistic arrangement, even if he did not teach the system. It has been inferred, [R1862 : page 206] too, that the death of Ananias and Sapphira was an indication that the giving of all the goods of the believers was compulsory; but not so: their sin was that of lying, as Peter declared in reviewing the case. While they had the land there was no harm in keeping it if they got it honestly; and even after they had sold it no harm was done: the wrong was in misrepresenting that the sum of money turned in was their all, when it was not their all. They were attempting to cheat the others, by getting a share of their all without giving their own all.
As a matter of fact, the Christian Community at Jerusalem was a failure. "There arose a murmuring" – "because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration." Although under the Apostolic inspection the Church was pure, free from "tares," and all had the treasure of the new spirit or "mind of Christ," yet evidently that treasure was only in warped and twisted earthen vessels which could not get along well together; because while all were blemished, all were not blemished in the same manner and degree.
The apostles soon found that the management of the community would greatly interfere with their real work – their commission to preach the gospel – "That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, beginning at Jerusalem." So they abandoned those things to others. The Apostle Paul and others traveled from city to city preaching Christ and him crucified; but, so far as the record shows, they never mentioned Communism and never organized a Community: and yet St. Paul declares, "I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God." This proves that Communism is no part of the gospel, nor of the counsel of God for this age.
On the contrary, the Apostle Paul exhorted and instructed the Church to do things which it would be wholly impossible to do as members of a communistic society – to each "provide for his own;" to "lay by on the first day of the week" money for the Lord's service, according as the Lord had prospered them; that servants should obey their masters, rendering the service with a double good will if the master were also a brother in Christ; and how masters should treat their servants, as those who must themselves give an account to the great Master, Christ. – 1 Tim. 5:8; 6:1; 1 Cor. 16:2; Eph. 6:5-9.
Our Lord Jesus not only did not establish a Community while he lived, but he never taught that such should be established. On the contrary, in his parables he taught, – that all have not the same number of pounds or talents given them, that each is a steward and should individually (not collectively, as a commune) manage his own affairs, and render his own account. (Matt. 25:14-28; Luke 19:13-24. See also James 4:13,15.) And, when dying, our Lord commended his mother to the care of his disciple John, and the record of John (19:27) is, "And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." John, therefore, had a home; so had Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Had our Lord formed a Community he would, doubtless, have commended his mother to it instead of to John.
Moreover, the forming of a Commune of believers is opposed to the purpose and methods of the Gospel age. The object of this age is to witness Christ to the world, and thus to "take out a people for his name;" and to this end each believer is exhorted to be a burning and a shining light before men – the world in general – and not before and to each other merely. Hence, after permitting the first Christian Commune to be established, to show that the failure to establish Communes generally was not an oversight, the Lord broke it up, and scattered the believers everywhere, to preach the gospel to every creature. We read, – "And at that time there was a great persecution against the Church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles," and they went everywhere preaching the gospel. – Acts 8:1,4; 11:19.
It is still the work of God's people to shine as lights in the midst of the world, and not to shut themselves up in convents and cloisters or as communities. The promises of Paradise will not be realized by joining such Communes. We advise all TOWER readers to have neither part nor lot in such communities. The desire to join is but a part of the general spirit of our day against which we are forewarned. (Isa. 8:12.) "Trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for him." He will establish righteousness and equity in the earth. "Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things, and to stand before the Son of Man." – Luke 21:36.
Golden Text. – "He wholly followed the Lord God of Israel." – Josh. 14:14.
We observe also many similar promises made to Israel as a nation conditioned on their obedience to God and their faith and loyalty: – They should eat the good of the land; their days should be long upon the land which the Lord gave them; their enemies should not triumph over them; they should be blessed in basket and store, etc., etc. These were the immediate temporal rewards of earthly things promised to the obedient. But the promises to be realized to them even beyond the grave were also of an earthly kind. To Abraham God said, "Lift up now thine eyes and look from the place where thou art, northward and [R1862 : page 207] southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed forever." And Stephen and Paul, referring to this earthly promise to Abraham and to his seed according to the flesh, remind us that this promise was never fulfilled to Abraham in his past life (nor has it yet been fulfilled to his posterity – "for an everlasting possession"); but that he died in faith believing that when he should be awakened from death in due time the promise would be verified. – Acts 7:5; Heb. 11:8-10.
These observations suggest several important questions. – (1) May the Christian expect the temporal rewards or earthly prosperity as a present reward of faithfulness to God? (2) Shall the spiritual seed of Abraham share the earthly inheritance with the fleshly seed? or (3), vice versa, If the higher promises were made to the spiritual seed, the Gospel Church, can they apply also to the fleshly seed?
Considering the second question first, we answer, No; for the saints of the Gospel age are to be changed from the human to the spiritual, divine nature. They are to be made like unto Christ's glorious body, who is now "the express image of the Father" – "the King immortal, invisible and dwelling in light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see;" and with Christ they are to inherit all things. (1 Cor. 15:51-53; Phil. 3:21; 2 Pet. 1:4; Phil. 1:5; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16; Rev. 21:7; Rom. 8:17.) While the fleshly seed of Abraham will rejoice to sit, each man, under his own vine and fig tree with none to molest or make them afraid (Micah 4:4), the spiritual seed will be reigning with Christ in glory, and from their exalted position will be able to bless all the families of the earth; and not only so, but even to judge angels. – Gen. 28:14; Gal. 3:16,29; 1 Cor. 6:3.
Nor can the fleshly seed of Abraham, even the most worthy and faithful prophets and martyrs, inherit the "exceeding great and precious promises" which belong to a subsequent dispensation of divine favor; for it is written that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God," – the spiritual plane of that kingdom being here referred to, – though they will inherit its earthly phase, as it is written: "Ye [unfaithful Jews] shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God [the earthly phase], and you yourselves thrust out." (Luke 13:28.) These two phases of the kingdom will be in communication and cooperation during the Millennium – the one, the higher, spiritual and invisible, and the other, perfect human and visible among men. Thus it is written, "Out of Zion [the spiritual phase] shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem [the human, visible phase]." (Isa. 2:3.) And while the promise to Abraham, "In thee and in thy seed ['which seed', says Paul, 'is Christ' – Head and body] shall all the families of the earth be blessed," shall be fulfilled in the spiritual seed primarily, yet the exalted earthly phase of the kingdom are to be the blessed channels or agencies through which the blessing shall flow to all the kindreds of the earth. And thus, as the Apostle declares, the promise of God – "In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed" – shall be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law (the fleshly seed), but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise. – Rom. 4:16; Gal. 3:16,29.
This calls to mind the two phases of the kingdom of God as presented in MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., Chap. XIV., and the separate and distinct inheritance and office of each. We are also reminded of the Lord's teaching that not all the natural descendants of Abraham are to be heirs with him of the promise, but only such as Abraham would be honored in owning as sons – such as partake of his spirit or disposition. – See John 8:39,44.
While to the natural seed of Abraham is promised all the land which Abraham saw, and the privilege of dwelling in it in safety, and while the inheritors of the earthly phase of the kingdom are to be princes in all the earth (Psa. 45:16), to the spiritual seed of Abraham, which seed is Christ – Head and body – are given the "exceeding great and precious promises." – 2 Pet. 1:4.
This brings us to the consideration of our first inquiry, May the Christian expect the rewards of earthly prosperity for his faithfulness to God, either in the present life, or in that which is to come?
We have already shown that Christians, members of the body of Christ, have beyond this life "an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven" for them (1 Pet. 1:4); consequently the earthly inheritance of human perfection and a peaceful home, each under his own vine and fig tree, could not confine to earth the immortal spirit beings, partakers of the divine nature, the scope of whose powers must necessarily extend to the utmost bounds of creation.
Nor can the rewards of present temporal prosperity in worldly things be expected by those who are running for the prize of this high calling to glory, honor and immortality as kings and priests unto God; for the way to the crown is the way of the cross, the way of sacrifice, as well to every member of the body of Christ as it was to our Head and Lord, Christ Jesus. He was "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;" the reproaches of them that reproached God fell upon him; though he was rich, for our sakes he became poor; so poor that he said, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." There was no reward of earthly prosperity for the Lord's faithfulness, but the reverse – privation and persecution were realized, even unto death. And the servant is not above his Lord: if they have persecuted him they will persecute us also; and the reproaches of them that reproached him will also fall upon us. The only present reward for which the followers of Christ may look is the heartfelt manifestations of the Lord's love and approval. "In the world," said he, "ye shall have tribulation, but in me ye shall have peace."
It should be observed also that while rewards of temporal prosperity were promised and given to fleshly Israel as a nation and as individuals, yet the very cream of that nation, the faithful patriarchs and prophets received no such temporal rewards, but like the Gospel Church, they endured hardness as good soldiers and nobly fought the good fight of faith; and their abundant reward will be in the glory of the earthly phase of the Kingdom of God. Note the account of their faithful endurance as recorded by Paul in Heb. 11.
The temporal rewards and punishments and general discipline of fleshly Israel were typical of the Lord's similar discipline of the world in the age to come; while his selection out from among that people of a worthy class of overcomers for the earthly phase of the Kingdom was typical of his selection during the Gospel age of a class of overcomers for the spiritual phase of the Kingdom. In any case, it pays to wholly follow the Lord God of Israel, who is a rewarder of all them that diligently seek him to walk in his ways. – Heb. 11:6; Prov. 8:32-36.
Golden Text. – "Who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us." – Heb. 6:18.
If the killing proved to be accidental the man-slayer must still remain in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest then in office. This restraint upon his liberty was the penalty for his carelessness, and thus an additional protection to human life.
This feature of the typical Mosaic law strongly foreshadowed the refuge which the sinner may find in Christ. He is our shield and hiding-place from the penalty of all sin, save that which is wilful. He is no shelter for obstinate, unrepentant sinners; but for every one born in sin and shapen in iniquity, and thus sinners by the accident of birth or heritage, yet earnestly desirous of escaping from sin and its just consequences, and seeking refuge in him by faith, there is protection. We are all under sentence of death; Justice is the avenger; and only those in Christ are shielded.
But, mark you, the sinner must continue to abide in this city of refuge as long as the high priest liveth – i.e., as long as Christ continues in the priestly office, which will be until he is able to present all the redeemed who abide in him under the New Covenant conditions faultless before the throne of God, at the end of his Millennial reign as king and priest. Then, being made actually perfect by the great Redeemer-Physician, they will be able to stand, not in the imputed or reckoned righteousness of another, as formerly, but in their own glorious perfection, yet never forgetful of the great atoning sacrifice and the patient work of restitution which made possible such a glorious consummation.
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – I desire to write you at this time. I seem to be learning more and more the necessity of watching against the spirit of division, which Satan seems more and more trying to inject into the Church, if possible, to overthrow the faith of some. When I think of well-informed men that have fallen, because of not watching against that hydra-headed monster, Envy, it makes me tremble. And I ask myself: "Can it possibly be that I may live too unguarded, and finally forsake the Truth and be a 'cast-away'?" Oh, yes, it is possible, but I pray, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit [R1863 : page 208] [of love] within me." Satan would have me to enviously harbor evil against a dear brother some times, and then my only refuge is "the precious blood" of Christ. How I realize that this "earthen vessel" needs to be constantly replenished with the spirit of the truth, oil, lest the fires of love go out. May the dear Lord keep all the precious sheep safe and secure. And this he certainly will do if our part be done. "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God." (Prov. 4:23; Heb. 12:15.) This I want to do.
May the precious love of our dear Lord be a consolation to you, my dear Brother, in all your labors for his name's sake. Also may the dear ones in the office be shielded from every fiery dart, by "the breastplate of faith and love." They are dear brethren and sisters, yet I see they are open to an attack from the Evil one in a way others are not. How necessary the warning of the Apostle: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
Oh, that the constant prayer of all may be, Lord, "Keep thou my way for me." I find that we Colporteurs need to "watch and pray" constantly, especially where there are two or more together, lest the spirit of division creep in there too. May we all "walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace." – Eph. 4:1-3.
Yours in the hope of our high calling,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Your letter with the volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN at hand, and I have found much pleasure in studying them. I find food that no other book outside the Bible has given me. Thank God that millions of heathen Chinese who have no knowledge of that "only name whereby men must be saved" are to be given a knowledge! I have felt since I have been in China that all my faith had been taken away, and many times, when facing realities, as if I should die in the struggle. I find much opposition to what seems to me to be the correct interpretation of the Scriptures, and while I stand alone in a sense, yet I am perfectly happy and God blesses me.
I enjoy the TOWER very much, and would like to send you the money for DAWNS and TOWER but I haven't it. Since I withdrew from the Alliance Mission I have had no stated salary, and many times am short of what many would call the necessities of life; but my needs have all been supplied; praise God!
I have many things to think about, and it is not easy to surmount the hills of difficulty. I need the prayers of faith, and trust you will remember me sometimes when at the throne of grace. God bless and use you abundantly!
In the hope of his coming,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – Books duly to hand. Am now through with the third volume, and re-reading VOL. I., as there were very many things I did not see in it the first reading. I notice you say, that, if the readers derive one-fourth the joy from these books that the writer did in preparing same, you will be satisfied. I will say, four times the joy I received in reading them, is more than one man can hold; so your joy must be full. Yours in the Lord,
|VOL. XVI.||SEPTEMBER 15, 1895.||No. 18.|
|Special Items: –|
|True Love vs False Love; etc.,||210|
|Views from the Tower||211|
|Poem: God Holds the Key||212|
|The Privilege and Power of Prayer||213|
|Concerning Profitable Meetings||216|
|Bible Study: Israel Renewing the Covenant||219|
|Bible Study: Review||220|
|Bible Study: The Times of the Judges||220|
Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accident, or other adversity are unable to pay for the TOWER will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
God is love! Beware of people who while expatiating on love and attempting to shine as its exponents do so at the expense of God's character. Some of them affect to be so loving that they cannot admit that God could destroy Satan and the wicked as he declares he will do. Their argument sets themselves up as the standard, and they say, "Surely God cannot be less loving than I, – and I would save Satan and everybody." Poor foolish hearts, "Going about to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves to that righteousness which is of God;" and of which God's Word and conduct are the highest exponents. Thus their foolish heart becomes darkened. Those only will be loved of the Lord and kept from falling, and those only will be made up as his "jewels," who reverence his Word and make up the standard of their judgment from it; and who do not attempt to pervert it to their own conceptions.
Beware of all who make a great palaver about love! for Satan often uses it as the garment of light to cover bad conduct or bad doctrines – whose real lovelessness he would thus screen from criticism. For instance, true love begins with God, and says, "Let God be true, if it prove every man a liar." False love often is really self-love, which would not hesitate to trail even divine honor and love and justice in the dust, in order to glorify self as the founder of a theory; for instance, the theory which charges "all the sin and wickedness and crime" of the present and past upon God. Shall we suppose that those who thus blaspheme God's holy name, and charge him with all the sin and deviltry of the past six thousand years, really love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength? Surely not! The loving and appreciative heart recognizes God as the embodiment of the highest standard of love and justice, truth and righteousness. Such a theory would be an abomination to anyone possessing the true love of God even to a limited degree. Such should not even need the assurances of Scripture that it is "every good and perfect gift that cometh down from the Father of lights;" that "in him is no darkness [evil] at all;" – that "his work is perfect;" that "God tempteth no man" with evil, neither is he tempted by any.
See our issue of March 1, '95, "Christian Common Sense."
FAILING to receive from the present Czar assurances of a more liberal government than his father's, the Nihilists of Russia are conspiring and threatening his life. Bombs, arms, revolutionary literature and nine hundred conspirators have recently been seized at Moscow.
The war between the German Socialists and the German Emperor progresses. The latter has taken to flattering the army, and recently, at the celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the victory of Sedan, speaking to his Guard at the close of the review of 30,000 troops he said: "May the whole people find in themselves strength to repel these monstrous attacks. If they do not I now call upon you to resist the treasonable band, and to urge a war which will free us from such elements." A Berlin correspondent telegraphs, – "Never before has he [the Emperor] so energetically and plainly appealed to the army as the final arbiter in the struggle against Social Democracy."
Two days later the editor of "Vorwarts" was arrested and two editions of his journal seized, for articles criticizing the national war policy, considered uncomplimentary to the Emperor. The real secret is that the Social Democrats are increasing, and polled 1,500,000 votes at the last election.
These things show that while the movement toward political liberty has been rather quiet for some time, it has not died. It will be on hand to fulfill the predictions of Scripture in due time. It cannot overwhelm the mountains [governments], and sweep them into the sea [anarchy] (Psa. 46), until first the servants of God are "sealed in their foreheads."
The Benedictine monks of St. Vincent (Beatty, Pa.) have long made a beer almost as celebrated as that made by the monks near Ligonier, Pa. Roman Catholic temperance workers are endeavoring to have Satolli rebuke and close both distilleries.
Through the "Wine and Spirit Gazette" we learn that a London wine firm is advertising by circular to give a "guaranteed summary" of their "most important customers." These are classified as follows:
|Judges of the courts||9|
|Army and navy officers||708|
|Baronets, knights, M.P's, etc.||2,600|
|Attorneys, merchants, etc.||4,250|
The oldest Presbyterian church in Pittsburg has, for about thirty-five years to our knowledge, and probably longer, rented property for the wholesale, and latterly for the retail, liquor business. The revenue of course has been a snug sum; and now it is proposed to demolish the present structure and to erect a very fine Office Building, in which all the Presbyterian Missions and other Boards and Societies can be housed, with rooms to let to others – none of which, we hope, will be rented for the liquor traffic.
We rejoice that the evidences are that the anti-alcoholic sentiment is spreading, tho slowly, so far as professing Christians are concerned; but we have no hope that anything short of "Thy Kingdom come" will release the race from this great slave-holder and tyrant, Alcohol.
The Governor of California recently decided in reference to the "Boy's Brigade", that neither it nor any other organization could be allowed to drill and carry weapons, unless first they had sworn allegiance to the State, – that they would never bear arms against the State, and that they [R1863 : page 212] would bear arms and do duty for the State, the same as the regular National Guard. Thus the Church and State are being drawn together by well-intentioned but deluded leaders. The Governor properly looked out for the welfare of his charge, and other Governors of other states will probably take similar action in time.
What a great mistake it is to attempt to mix the good fight against sin, inculcated by the Prince of Peace, the Chief Captain of all the soldiers of the cross, with any other soldiers and any other methods or warfare. The Salvation Army was the first innovation on this line, and is the least objectionable; but doubtless it has opened the door to the Boy's Brigade, and the results are not yet. The tendency is always downward, however noble the original intention. The simplicity of the gospel of Christ should never be lost sight of.
Free Masonry was an attempt at a religious military movement. The Boston newspapers tell that at their recent Conclave there the saloons did a thriving business, and that many of the Sir Knights carried their crosses upside down as they crowded each other in and out of the saloons. The papers tell also of their religious services; we quote: –
"After the Deus Misereatur, the Eminent Commander Seymore gave the orders: 'Attention, Sir Knights! Draw swords! Present swords!' The Apostles' Creed was then repeated. Then followed:
"Eminent commander – 'Return swords.'
"Prelate – 'The Lord be with you.'
"Knights – 'And with thy spirit.' At this point the Sir Knights knelt.
"Prelate – 'O Lord, show thy mercy upon us;'
"Knights – 'And grant us thy salvation.'
"Prelate – 'O God, make clean our hearts within us;'
"Knights – 'And take not thy Holy Spirit from us.'
"Prelate – 'Let us pray.'
"The prayers that followed included the collect for the 11th Sunday after Trinity, the collect for peace, the collect for and against perils, and the prayer for the President of the United States and all in civil authority.
As Christ was crucified by his kinsmen according to the flesh, so he is frequently put to an open shame and wounded afresh "in the house of his friends." Alas! how many have taken his name in vain, – to no purpose, to the dishonor of his cause! Let each one of us who has named the name of Christ put on Christ and walk in him; clothed, not with showy symbols, but with humility and true devotion.
Yet according to the course of this world there are few organizations that can boast as many noble men as the Sir Knights, and concerning them one of their number, a chaplain, preaching, said: [R1864 : page 212]
"All these men have vowed by heart and hand to uphold Christ and Christianity. Remember also that these are only a vanguard of the mighty army that, when Christianity or education need assistance, are bound to protect them."
As God sometimes uses the wrath of man to praise him, so he has used human antagonisms and superstitions to keep the world in general equilibrium during the period in which he is selecting, polishing and testing his "little flock" for his Kingdom. When it is complete and exalted to power, the scene will change radically. Truth will then be mighty, and error shall no longer prevail. The world knew not our Captain, and likewise knows not his real "soldiers of the cross." "As he is, so are we in this world." – 1 John 4:17.
The Christian Endeavorers are showing more and more of a disposition to take a hand in Politics and Reform. They see not the grandeur and greatness of the Kingdom for which we wait, in which God's will shall "be done on earth as it is done in heaven." They see not how God is preparing to establish this Kingdom, so they propose to take a hand themselves and wait for the King no longer. The Canadian branch recently "Resolved" that, "Christ will never be King of this world till he is King of politics." This is in accord with the sentiments of the Order in the U.S., as heretofore pointed out. Indeed, a movement is now on foot to have united action by the Christian Endeavorers, the Epworth Leaguers and the Baptist Young People of Philadelphia in favor of some reform candidates in Philadelphia; and the same thing is agitated in New Jersey. We have already pointed out that this seemingly harmless Political Crusade is likely to result in a measurable union of Church and State. [R1870 : page 212]
God holds the key of all unknown,
And I am glad;
If other hands should hold the key,
Or if he trusted it to me,
I might be sad.
What if to-morrow's cares were here,
Without its rest?
Rather would I unlock the day,
And as the hours swing open, say
"Thy will is best."
The very dimness of my sight
Makes me secure;
For, groping in my misty way,
I feel his hand – I hear him say,
"My help is sure."
I see not all his future plans;
But this I know,
I have the smiling of his face,
And all the refuge of his grace,
While here below.
Enough! this covers all my want,
And so I rest;
For what I cannot, he can see,
And in his care I sure shall be
"And Jesus spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray and not to faint." – Luke 18:1-8.
"Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in the grave, behold thou art there; if I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me,...even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee, but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee." – Psa. 139:1-12.
Fallen creatures though we be, from the noble estate in which we were created, God so loved our race, even while we were yet sinners, as to make provision at great cost for our redemption and restitution and subsequent eternal glory. And therefore it is, – because he loves us, – that through Christ he extends to us the gracious favor of coming to him as children to a father. Wonderful is the condescension, wonderful the love and favor of our God!
Yet our God is a God to be revered: he is not one like ourselves, our equal, into whose presence we may come without that ceremony and decorum due to his glorious person and office. (Job 9:1-35.) The court of heaven has regulations and ceremonies of respect and due deference which must be complied with by every man who would gain an audience with the King of kings; and it behooves us to inquire what those regulations are before we presume to address him. Here the Word of God gives explicit directions. Our Lord Jesus, the appointed "days-man" for which Job so earnestly longed (Job 9:32,33), said, "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me. I am the way." (John 14:6.) Then he gave us an illustration of the manner in which we should address him, in what is known as the Lord's prayer. (Matt. 6:9-13.) The illustration teaches (1) that we (believers in Christ) may consider ourselves as in God's estimation reinstated (through faith in Christ) to the original position of sons of God, and that we may therefore confidently address him – "Our Father." (2) It indicates on our part worshipful adoration of the high and holy One, and profound reverence for the glorious character and attributes of Our God. – "Hallowed be thy name." (3) It expresses full sympathy with his revealed plan for a coming Kingdom of righteousness, which will be according to his will. – "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." This shows the attitude of heart to be toward righteousness, and fully submitted to the divine will and purpose, that God may work in it to will and to do his good pleasure. (4) It expresses in plain and simple language its dependence on God for daily needs, and the confidence of a child in the Father for the supply of those needs out of his abundant fulness. – "Give us this day our daily bread." (5) It seeks forgiveness for trespasses, and recognizes also the obligation thus incurred to render the same to those trespassing against us – "And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors;" and (6) it seeks to be guarded against temptations and to be fortified by God's abounding grace [R1865 : page 213] against all the wiles of the adversary* – "And abandon us not to trial, but preserve us from evil."
Such are the principles which must ever characterize our attitude of mind and heart when we would avail ourselves of the privilege of addressing the throne of heavenly grace. In brief, our prayers, to be acceptable to God, must express confident faith, loving esteem and reverence, full sympathy with the divine plan and submission to the divine will, childlike dependence upon God, acknowledgment of sins and shortcomings and desire for forgiveness, with a forgiving disposition on our part toward others, and an humble craving for the divine guidance and protection. These may not always all be expressed in words, but such must at least be the attitude of the soul.
Those who thus come to God are privileged always to [R1865 : page 214] have their interests considered at the throne of grace, and the welcome we shall always find there may be judged of by the cordial invitations to come often and tarry long. Well might we hesitate to avail ourselves of such privileges were we not thus assured, but having this assurance we may come with confidence to the throne of grace. – Heb. 4:16; 13:6.
The Lord knew how necessary to our spiritual life would be this communion with himself. Tempest-tossed and tried, how much we need our Father's care and the comfort and consolation which his presence and sympathy realized imparts. And have not all the meek and contrite in heart the promise not only of the occasional attentive hearing, but of the abiding presence of both the Father and the Son, our Lord Jesus? Jesus said, "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas – not Iscariot – saith unto him, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." – John 14:21-23.
The thought which this promise of the abiding presence of the Father and Son conveys to our minds is that their thought and care and interest will be constantly upon us, and that at any instant we may engage the special attention of either or both. The same idea is also conveyed by the words of the Apostle Peter (1 Pet. 3:12) – "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers." And we are urged to be "instant in prayer," to "pray always, and not to faint," to "pray without ceasing;" for "Like as a Father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him; for he knoweth our frame, he remembereth that we are dust." "As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him," and "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." Yea, "the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children, to such as keep his covenant and to those that remember his commandments to do them." – Rom. 12:12; Luke 18:1; 1 Thes. 5:17; Psa. 103:13,14,11,12,17,18.
We cannot come too often, then, to the throne of the heavenly grace, if we are of those who can claim the abiding presence of the Father and the Son – if we are of them that love him and keep his commandments and who recognize the Lord Jesus as the only way of access to the Father. And even "if any man sin" – be overtaken in a fault – so that from his outward conduct he might be judged as not loving the Lord, yet, if he repent, let him remember that "we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous," who "is the propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins," "who also maketh intercession for us." "Who," then, "shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." – 1 John 2:1,2; Rom. 8:33,34.
Wherefore, the Apostle urges, "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession; for we have not a High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." – Heb. 4:14-16.
With such urgent and loving invitations let no child of God hesitate to come to him often or to tarry long in communion and fellowship with him. It is our privilege to enter into our closets and shut the doors and pray to our Father which seeth in secret, who will reward us openly. (Matt. 6:6.) And not only so, but he will go with us through all the business and hurry and commotion of the day; and at any instant in the midst of cares and perplexities we may turn our prayerful thoughts to him for wisdom, for strength and Christian fortitude, or for comfort and consolation for ourselves or others. And though we hear no responding voice, if we are attentive to the course of his providence we will shortly see the shaping of events and circumstances for our good and the good of others in answer to such prayers. Beloved, have we not many a time proved this true? – in perplexities, in tribulations, in afflictions, in persecutions, in bereavements, in temptations and trials?
In coming to God we need have no fear that he is too busy with other matters of greater importance, or that he is weary of our coming to him repeatedly with things of small importance. It was to assure us against this very thing that our Lord spoke the parable of the importunate widow, who was heard and answered on account of her importunity. In so doing we evince both the earnestness of our desires and our faith that our prayers will be answered, if we faint not from lack of faith or zeal when the answer is delayed, as often it must necessarily be, since time is an important element in all God's work.
All night, until the break of day, Jacob wrestled in prayer, saying, "I will not let thee go, unless thou bless me." Paul thrice besought the Lord until he was assured his grace would be sufficient for him. The Lord himself frequently spent whole nights in prayer, and he prayed earnestly and with many tears. (Luke 6:12; Matt. 14:23; Mark 6:46; 1:35; Luke 5:16; Heb. 5:7.) And the Apostle Paul says, "In everything, by prayer and supplication [earnest pleading] with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." – Phil 4:6.
The Apostle himself acted on this principle when he urged, in his letter to the Romans, that the saints "strive [R1865 : page 215] together [Greek, agonize] with me in prayers to God for me," that he might safely accomplish a certain work which seemed to be of the Spirit's leading. – Rom. 15:28-32.
"In every thing." – That signifies that our heavenly Father is deeply interested in everything that relates to us and ours. What thing is too small for his notice who numbers even the very hairs of our heads? In to-day's household or business cares, then, we may have his loving sympathy and helpfulness. Do a mother's counsel and a father's wisdom seem inadequate to restrain and guide aright the wayward course of impetuous and over-confident youth, they may bring their cares and fears to the Lord; and, as the children cross the threshold to meet the world's temptations, his wisdom and providence may be invoked to so shape their circumstances and surroundings as to show them eventually the sure safe way and the folly of pursuing any other.
Do business cares perplex and annoy? remember the Lord's caution, "Be not overcharged with the cares of this life," and the Apostle's warning, "They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and utter ruin; for the love of money is the root of all evil, which, while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life." And, remembering these things, come to the throne of the heavenly grace for wisdom and direction as to how you may so adjust your temporal affairs as not to be overcharged with the cares of this life. It is right to be charged with them to the extent of diligence (Rom. 12:11) and the utilization of such diligence in the Lord's service; but it is the overplus, the corroding care, that interferes with peace of mind and communion with God, that is to be avoided.
Does poverty pinch and cause anxious thought? take that also to the Lord in prayer; and then, while diligently using the means at hand, to provide things decent and honest, patiently and confidently wait and watch the indications of providence, assured that he who feeds the fowl of the air, which neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and who clothes the grass of the field, which to-day is and to-morrow is cast into the oven, is both able and willing to clothe and feed you and yours.
And so through all the list of earth's trials and cares, its wants and its woes, its bereavements and disappointments and calamities and distresses, its failures and shortcomings and sins and mistakes, we may take them all to the Lord in prayer and receive that strength and sympathy [R1866 : page 215] and consolation and help we so much need. Let us live in the presence of the Father and the Son who have promised to abide with us. It will sweeten our days and comfort our nights and ease our burdens and lighten our cares and brighten our hopes, and, in a word, it will lift us up above the world into a higher and purer atmosphere. Such is the will of heaven concerning us: let us appreciate and avail ourselves of the privilege.
By all the encouragements of precept and example, the Lord assures us that the fervent prayer of a righteous man (a justified and consecrated child of God) availeth much. (Jas. 5:16.) We are urged also to come in faith. Jesus said, "If ye have faith and doubt not,...all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." (Matt. 21:22.) As he was addressing his consecrated disciples, it must of course be understood that all their petitions would be subjected to divine wisdom, and therefore the answers to their prayers, though always sure, might not always be in the way expected, but they would always be considered and answered in some way for their highest good.
What a blessed privilege, dear fellow-disciples of the Lord, is ours, to be instant in prayer, to pray always – to lift up our hearts and minds to God at any time and in any place and to realize thus daily and hourly that the Father and our dear Lord Jesus continually abide with us. And then, when the active duties of the day have been performed under his eye and supervision, or at any time when the soul realizes its necessity, how precious is the privilege of entering into our closets and there alone with God unburdening our hearts.
While secret prayer is the blessed privilege of every child of God, and one without which his spiritual life cannot be sustained, it is also the privilege of Christians to unite their petitions at the throne of grace. This united prayer is specially commended by the Lord. (Matt. 18:19.) "Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father; for where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
With such promises as these, together with an experience of their fulfilment, who can doubt the love and favor of our God and of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? Therefore let us be encouraged to pray always and not to faint when the answers seem to tarry long, for time is often required to work out the deep designs of an allwise and loving Providence. Remember the words of the angel to Daniel. Daniel said, "While I was speaking and praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God, for the holy mountain of my God; yea, while I was speaking in prayer," the answer came by the hand of an angel who said, "O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved." – Dan. 9:20-23.
On another occasion, when Daniel had mourned three weeks, fasting and praying, because of his inability to understand, the angel of the Lord came and said, "Fear [R1866 : page 216] not, Daniel, for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words." – Dan. 10:2,3,10-12.
Even so shall it ever be with all the beloved of the Lord: at the beginning of our supplications God begins to set in operation the influences and to shape the circumstances which are designed to work out the intended blessing for us – if we faint not, but continue instant in prayer, thereby evincing our continued earnestness of desire, and if we confess our sins, and set our hearts to understand, and chasten ourselves before him. How many prayers are not heard or are hindered because the one who asks does not first purify himself of evil in his own heart? "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts;" i.e., you ask selfishly and without regard to the will of God. (Jas. 4:3.) But to the chastened and sanctified comes the promise – "Before they call [reading the desire of the heart even before it finds expression in words] I will answer [will begin so to shape events as to bring the answer soon or later]; and while they are yet speaking I will hear." (Isa. 65:23,24.) While this is in connection with a prophecy relating to the Lord's people in the Millennial age, it nevertheless is true of all his faithful ones of this age. Praise the Lord for all his loving kindness to even the least of his lowly children!
"A few brethren who have been reading DAWN express their willingness to meet somewhere to study in consecutive order, and I ask suggestions for a plan suited to beginners. Pray for us, that we may commence this study in the right way, and be the recipients of many blessings.
"Yours in the faith,
"I find in this locality a fine field for labor. Several here to whom I have given tracts already manifest interest. I have conversed freely with them on Bible subjects, and have their promise to attend meetings at my house. So if you can aid me by suggestions I will be thankful.
"I am, dear brother, yours in the service of the Master,
"Yours in Christ,
(1) You would best first re-read some things already written which bear upon this subject – in our issues of May 1, '93, page 131; Sept. '93, page 259; Oct. 15, '93, page 307; Mar. 1, '94, page 73; April 1, '95, page 78; May 1, '95, page 109.
(2) Beware of "organization." It is wholly unnecessary. The Bible rules will be the only rules you will need. Do not seek to bind others' consciences, and do not permit others to bind yours. Believe and obey so far as you can understand God's Word to-day, and so continue growing in grace and knowledge and love day by day.
(3) The Bible instructs you whom to fellowship as "brethren;" – only believers who are seeking to walk, not after the flesh, but after the spirit. Not believers of any and every thing, but believers of the Gospel record – that mankind is fallen into sin and its penalty, death, and that only in Christ is there salvation, "through faith in his blood" "shed for the remission of sins", as "a ransom [a corresponding price] for all." Any who merely believe in Christ as a noble and good person, a grand example of righteous living, etc., may be agreeable as neighbors or business acquaintances, but they are not "believers," and hence are not "brethren," any more than are Jews, Mohammedans, Infidels, publicans and sinners – for practically these also so acknowledge him.
(4) You come together, then, as God's children, bought back from sin and death with the great price, and resolved henceforth to live not unto yourselves, but unto him who died for you. (2 Cor. 5:15.) Your meetings should have certain objects in view, viz: –
(c) And to these ends you meet also for the study of God's Word, which he provided for our instruction and help in the narrow way which leads to those blessings prepared by him for those who love him and who demonstrate their love by their efforts to serve, honor and obey him.
(5) Thus seen, a knowledge of doctrines is not our ultimate object in meeting, but the building up of characters, which, as attempted copies of the character of God's dear Son, will be "accepted in the Beloved." But God declares that knowledge of the doctrines which he has revealed in his Word will be of great value to us in our endeavors to grow in his grace.
Hence, after worship, praise and prayer, Bible study should be recognized in its two parts, – (a) The study of God's plan, – what he tells us he is doing for us and for the world; what he has done; and what he will yet do; that we may be enabled as sons to enter into the very spirit of the great work of God and be intelligent co-workers with him. (b) The study of our duties and privileges in God's service, toward each other and toward those that are without, to the end that we may build up such characters [R1867 : page 216] as would be pleasing and acceptable to God now and in the age to come.
And since for general convenience these meetings should not last much longer than from one and a half to two hours, it will generally be found best to have at least two meetings per week, one for the consideration of Christian graces and testimony and mutual helpfulness; and the other for Bible study. And at every meeting our songs and prayers of thankful worship should ascend as incense [R1867 : page 217] before God; and in this worship all should share.
Amongst us, as in the early Church, the preaching of formal discourses is the exception, rather than the rule. The exception should be where some brother has the necessary qualifications – clear appreciation of the truth and ability to set it forth so as to be helpful to the Lord's flock, with qualifications also of voice, education, etc., and withal, surely one who is meek and not likely to become puffed up, or to preach himself, rather than the cross of Christ.
But, whether there be preaching or no preaching, the other meetings, in which all can and should take part (both brethren and sisters), should be kept up; and each of the saints (consecrated "believers") should seek in them to do good, as well as to get good. – See Rom. 14:19; Eph. 4:11-32; 1 Thes. 5:11.
(6) What shall be our Standard by which we may know the truth and prove it? We answer, The Word of God "is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect [-ed in knowledge and conduct], thoroughly furnished unto all good works. – 2 Tim. 3:16,17.
But how shall we understand the Bible? For centuries good men as well as bad men have searched its pages. The former have found therein blessings, it is true, but so far as doctrines are concerned only confusion; satisfactory plan, order, justice and wisdom none have ever found there in all that time. The due time for the mystery of God's plan to be finished had not yet come; and it was "sealed up," "hidden," until that due time. But now, we who are living in the time of "the cleansing of the Sanctuary,"* and particularly since the time of blessedness at the end of the 1335 days+ – in the present harvest, and in the beginning of the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet – we have a very different experience from the saints of past times. To us it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, which many prophets and many righteous persons of the past were not privileged to see. Thank God for the light of present truth! Now we can see a plan of God – a plan which covers every detail of history past, and of revelation future; a plan that is complete, – lacking and disjointed at no part; a plan that is in strictest conformity with divine Justice, Wisdom, Power and Love, and with every text of the divine Word; and which thus proves itself to be not only a reasonable plan, but the plan of God, in comparison with which all other theories and plans are defective and evidently erroneous, out of harmony with the divine attributes and with the divine Word.
Those who have come to an understanding of the plan of the ages, recognize it as of divine and not of human origination. It is the key to the mysteries of God which God himself has provided, and for which we all unite in rendering to him all praise. Its light is that of the millennial dawn, bringing with it peace and joy to thousands. We give all praise and honor to the Divine Author from whom cometh every good and perfect gift, and who thus, according to his promise (Luke 12:37), continues to feed his Church with spiritual "meat in due season." God, still our Teacher, uses as heretofore instrumentalities, and has provided for his people's instruction and use the orderly presentations of MILLENNIAL DAWN to point out to them his plan of the ages and the duties and privileges of this "harvest" time; because the "due time" has come for "the mystery" to be finished. (Rev. 10:7.) And those who have received instruction in the Word, in private, through the use of MILLENNIAL DAWN as a teacher sent of God (Eph. 4:11-14) have no more reason to ignore it as God's mouthpiece in united study than in their own private study; – no more, either, than they would a living teacher.
And should any be disposed to worship the humble human instrumentality chosen of God as the channel for this blessing of present truth, we say to such, – "See thou do it not; for I am thy fellow servant [not thy Lord], and [fellow servant] of thy brethren the prophets [all true teachers or mouthpieces of God]:...Worship God." (Rev. 22:9.) The water of life and the Giver of it, and not the earthen vessel through which it is sent, are to be reverenced. The earthen vessels have naught whereof to glory. What have we of ourselves that we did not first receive of the Lord? – 1 Cor. 4:6,7.
The God-given plan of the ages is what we should all use in the study of the Bible, if we would get the treasures of wisdom, and grace, and strength for service in these perilous harvest times, for which it is divinely provided. Each one who recognizes this as a God-given light should use it in the study of the Word. Each should make it his own light as God intended. Each should become so proficient in its use as to be able to answer every question that could be asked respecting the general plan of God. But alas! some seem to feel that this is Brother Russell's plan, and that they should originate their own. But this is a great mistake. It is not our plan, but God's. If not God's plan, it is of no value. We do not want any human plans. Surely men cannot make plans for God that he will recognize; for his own plans have been since "before the foundation of the world." God has but one plan, and it is unalterable; and now that he has revealed it, we confess that it is wonderful, yet as simple as it is beautiful. It is a plan, however, that men could not conceive or arrange. Its thoughts are higher than man's thoughts; and hence in all the centuries past men have never even approximated this divine plan of the ages.
So then the Bible, the standard, should be studied in the light of this God-given teaching, until each one is proficient – an able teacher of it. Then each should let his light shine – humbly serving it to others.
Some, alas! when their eyes are opened to see God's loving plan of the ages, while surprised, and thankful to God for the present truth, neglect to do more than hastily taste of it; and then they hasten on, as they say, to "hunt for more." What they should do would better be to use well what God has already given us as his people. There is a famine in the land; not for bread, nor for water, but for the Word of the Lord. (Amos 8:11.) Our Lord and Master has come to his waiting people, and spread for them a bounteous table of truths, new and old, in order. (Matt. 13:52.) We certainly have no right to ask for more or other blessings, until we have feasted to the full on what has been set before us. Then we should exercise ourselves, using the strength received in serving the feast to others. Neglecting this, it would certainly be with bad grace that any would attempt to break open any parts of the storehouse not yet unlocked. Remember the illustration of the time-lock++ which opens easily, without burglarizing, at the appointed time.
"Thy words were found [not made, nor gained by human skill or labor], and I did eat them." (Jer. 15:16; [R1867 : page 218] Rev. 10:10.) Our Lord has always provided for his Church the food necessary to her welfare; and he always "giveth liberally." The proper attitude for the Church is to be active in eating the food already received and in using the strength derived from it. She is not to leave the table bountifully spread to pray for more. When more would be beneficial more will be sent by the hand of some "servant" of God and the Church. Nor will the true "servant" find it necessary to make the food; for it will be given him by the great Householder. It will be "found" by him, and when he presents it to the Lord's family, they will be able to discern upon it the stamp of divine truth. And after partaking of it liberally they will dispense it to others.
Sufficient labor for all comes after we have "found" the truth, – labor in eating it, studying and appropriating it, and labor in serving it to others. The labor and bitterness of experience come not with the getting and first tasting of the truth, but with the conflict of the truth with our own and other people's prejudices. Then comes the pleasurable but often painful labor of serving it to others that they may find it easily and eat it. The eating of the truth (the proving of it, and then the appropriating of it to strength) is no small task. When a new food comes to us, our eyes first criticize it. If it looks good, we handle it and smell of it; and finally, still approved, we judge further by biting it with our teeth; and then our palate judges by the taste, while our teeth prepare it for nutrition. So every child of God has considerable labor in the way of proving and eating his spiritual food, after the Lord has provided it and he has "found" it. The proving is a necessity because Satan through his agents is permitted to offer us poisonous food. God would have us exercise our spiritual senses and judge or prove all we eat by the standard, and thus to learn to distinguish good from evil. This searching and proving and appropriating, opposed by the world, the flesh and the devil, require considerable energy and overcoming quality, and leave little enough of time and energy to help others.
Let us remember, however, that we cannot break open any secrets which God may wish to conceal as not yet appropriate "meat in due season"; nor should we wish to [R1868 : page 218] do so. The small boy who bangs away at the unripe apple until it falls get food which makes him very sick: the ripe apple is very easily plucked. The unripe chestnut burr is difficult to pluck and very troublesome to open, and when open its fruit is unwholesome; but the ripe burr will fall and open of itself and its meat is sweet. Our diligence should be rather to watch the ripening processes of divine providence, and to hold our minds and hearts in humble readiness for all the rich fruitage of the advancing seasons, assured that our Master knoweth what things we have need of and will supply them to us in due time – directly or indirectly, it matters not so long as it is truth, from him and for us.
In the study of the Word of God in the light of the DAWN, let each one make use of concordances and marginal references and various translations of the Scriptures as he may have opportunity; remembering that nothing is to be accepted as truth which does not harmonize with the letter and spirit of God's Word. It is the Word of God that is to be eaten; the DAWNS and TOWERS are divinely provided helps for the cutting of the food into eatable portions, – enabling us to "rightly divide the Word of truth," and thus facilitating the eating of it.
Such meetings for the study of the Word in the light of the now revealed plan of the ages have been termed "Dawn Circles." The plan originated with Brother Rahn, of Baltimore, several years ago, and he and the other members of the class report much profit therefrom. The same plan has been pursued in perhaps a score of other cities, and always with success when rightly conducted. In illustration see letters from Brother Townsend in our issue of Dec. 15, '94 and Bro. Jeffery in issue of Jan. 1, '95. Since the "Circles" are no longer an experiment, but have practically demonstrated their value, it seems advisable to announce the matter so that all the students of the truth can have the benefit of the experience of others. We advise the holding of these Circles everywhere, and suggest that you invite to them only such as are believers in the efficacy of the precious blood of Christ, and of genuine Christian character. But any one should be welcomed who is desirous of learning the way of God more perfectly. As the Apostle says, "Him that is weak in the faith [not fully committed to Christ] receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations" – you do not meet to discuss the unbeliever's doubts, but to confirm the believer's faith. – Rom. 14:1; 1 Cor. 14:24,25.
It is advisable that the leader be a good reader, and that he begin at the beginning of Volume I. He should pause at the end of each sentence, if necessary, to give full opportunity for questions or remarks; and at the close of each paragraph a general discussion of its contents should be encouraged, together with an examination of texts cited therein, and any other texts that appertain to the subject. His object should be to draw out expressions from all, and to see that each person present understands the subject thoroughly. An entire session might profitably be spent sometimes upon one or two pages, or sometimes on one or two paragraphs. Each one of the Circle should have in hand some translation of the Bible or a "Dawn."
At the close of each chapter each one of the Circle should endeavor to give his own brief review of its subject, to see how clearly he has grasped it, and to impress it upon himself the more deeply. Having in view that all are preparing themselves to impart the truth to others, each should be encouraged to attempt a statement of the subject discussed, in his own words, but preferably in the order set forth in "DAWN."
In considering this method of Bible study note how much of interest and profitable conference could be drawn from the first chapter of Vol. I. The first paragraph calls our attention to and applies Psalm 30:5: – "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." How many suggestions this will call up to each child of God present! (1) The long, dark night of the reign of Sin and Death each could contrast with the longer glorious day, just dawning, in which Righteousness and Life shall reign through Christ's great work. (2) The cause of the Night, the withdrawal of divine favor because of disobedience, could be contrasted with the cause of the Morning – "We were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." (3) The cause of the weeping and pain, in the Night, – the curse or righteous sentence – "dying thou shalt die," could be contrasted with the cause of joy and rejoicing in the Morning, – "Thy dead men shall live," when "times of refreshing shall come – times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken." (Acts 3:19-21.) Each should be encouraged to tell what he knows experimentally about the dark night of sin's control, and also his appreciation of the rays of light from the Sun of Righteousness now shining, and of the glorious prospects which are thus revealed to his eye of faith.
The second paragraph is built upon Isaiah 55:8,9; and it has much food for thought and profitable converse. [R1868 : page 219] These two paragraphs might well fill the time of one session; and if the Circle be a large one it might require two sessions to fully digest them.
The third, fourth and fifth paragraphs consider what should be our object as truth-seekers, what we should seek, and what God promises we shall find – John 16:13 and other references coming to mind. Then the sixth paragraph considers the proper methods for Bible study, and refers to Eph. 4:11-16; besides which many other references will occur to the Circle. Paragraphs eight and nine contrast proper and improper methods of study, and call up an entirely new set of interesting scriptures. These paragraphs – third to ninth – would give a grand and helpful Bible and plan study for a second session of the Circle.
The next seven paragraphs, 10 to 16 inclusive, treat of the present religious condition of the world, and would make a wonderful third lesson if rightly used. A TOWER article on the same subject (Feb. '90, page 3) might also be introduced here with profit. How many interesting questions and suggestions come to all minds, some correct and some incorrect, and how helpful each could be to the other in building one another up in the most holy faith; and on leaving for home, how many would appreciate more fully than ever the general darkness of the world and the value of the light and of open eyes to see it. And thus we might progress, every lesson being full of instruction and of correct applications of Scripture. The Circles will be all the more interesting if there be present some "believers" not long in "this way." It would be well to tell your Christian friends, who show even a little interest in the truth about the Circle, and invite them to attend from the first. But should new inquirers come in after the Circle has advanced some distance, it will not be necessary to go back for their benefit, for they can at home read up to the present with such additional brief explanations as the leader may deem advisable.
But some one will say, At that rate we would be fully a year in going through the first volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN, and the three volumes would require three years! All the better, we answer: if we are furnished with spiritual refreshment for years, it is far better than if only for a day: it is not a case of business rush to "get through with it" that is our aim, but spiritual refreshment in the study of God's Word, that we may see clearly for ourselves and be able to give to him that asketh us a reason for the hope that is in us. At the close of the series you would have had under particular, critical examination hundreds of the most noteworthy texts of Scripture – words of the Lord's inspired mouthpieces, brought forward in their appropriate places to illuminate the various subjects which constitute the burden of divine revelation – the divine plan, spanning ages. Surely, if the Bible required nearly two thousand years for its preparation, we should give it reverent study, and not merely a casual glance and thought. Besides, when you would have gone through the subject thus thoroughly, you would doubtless be so proficient that you could answer promptly any question respecting it and be prepared to quote the Scriptures fully in support of your statements. Not only do all need such thorough study to prepare them "for the work of the ministry," but each needs such study for his own protection from the perils which will increase more and more during this "evil day."
The method suggested is not merely a reading of the DAWNS; for that each could do as well at his home and alone. Our proposition is for a general study of God's great plan of salvation – a comprehensive study of theology – the use of the DAWNS merely steering the minds of all into the same Scriptural channels and assisting in rightly dividing the Word of Truth. There are no scriptures which cannot be brought into these studies; for all scriptures are directly or indirectly related to God's plan. The design includes a study of the whole Bible in the fullest sense, and the cooperation of all in bringing forward every text and thought which could throw light upon the subjects considered.
Knowing the "downwardness" with which all our race is afflicted, we should, whenever we come together, guard ourselves and each other by resolving that no communications shall proceed out of our mouths except such as would serve to edify one another, and to build one another up in the most holy faith. This would bar out "gossip" and [R1869 : page 219] idle talking, and insure our thinking and talking of "whatsoever things are just and true and pure and of good report." If each comes to the meeting praying for the Lord's blessing upon himself and on the others of the Lord's body, near and far, it will be found helpful. And may grace, mercy and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, be with us all who thus seek, more and more, the way, the truth and the life.
Golden Text. – "The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey." – Josh. 24:24.
The counsel of Joshua was reverently received, the covenant was renewed, and the nation purged itself from idolatry, and in consequence was prospered and blessed. But why, we may reasonably inquire, should we be interested now in seemingly trivial matters of history of a date so remote? Why so minutely consider the experience and doings of that nation more than others of the ancient peoples? Or why are they so minutely given by the sacred writers?
Their importance to us lies in the fact that in the experiences of that consecrated people were foreshadowed those of God's consecrated people of this Gospel age; and in God's dealings with them we can read his judgment of us under similar circumstances, we, the Gospel church, being the antitypes of fleshly Israel, the spiritual Israel of God – nominally, as in the type, including all the professed members of the church, but actually only those who are truly the Lord's – "Israelites indeed," Christians indeed.
In the nation of Israel (nominal Israel) we observe a [R1869 : page 220] constant tendency to idolatry, while a faithful few ("Israelites indeed") always resisted this tendency, and, with fixed purpose of heart, worshipped the Lord in the beauty of holiness and endeavored to influence others to similar faithfulness. But their forefathers prior to Abraham were idolaters; the nations all about them were idolaters; and idolatrous worship, unlike the worship of the true God, imposed no restraints upon the downward tendencies of the fallen nature, but, on the contrary, cultivated and pandered to its depravity. Nor did it require faith in the unseen, but presented to the senses tangible objects of worship with rites and ceremonies suited to the carnal nature. Hence the continual gravitation of the nation toward idolatry, notwithstanding the wonderful power and goodness of God manifested on their behalf. Joshua, after calling attention to the marvels of divine providence which their wonderful history furnished, urged upon the people a prompt and firm decision, saying, "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve," etc.
Joshua also gave them distinctly to understand that in choosing to serve the Lord it must be whole hearted and sincere service, a full and complete turning to the Lord, and the putting away of all rivals. This exhortation was coupled with warnings of the Lord's indignation and wrath if they should wickedly ignore or violate their covenant and turn to idolatry. "And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey."
Happy indeed was it for Israel that such was their decision; and happy would it be for all God's consecrated people, if, with fixedness of purpose, they would pay their vows unto the Most High. In his dealings with typical Israel we see that our God is a jealous God and that he desires whole-hearted devotion to himself. If we permit any rival to occupy the mind and heart that was solemnly consecrated to him alone, then we are unfaithful to him and wickedly despising our covenant. Let the language of every consecrated heart be, "The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey."
"If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt and consume you, after that he hath done you good." The fact that the Lord has richly blessed us in the past while we were in the way with him is no guarantee that he will continue his favor with us after we have forsaken him. On the contrary, his positive declaration is that he will withdraw his favor from all such. In addition to the above the prophet Ezekiel says, "When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die." And Paul adds ["because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved"], "God shall send them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be condemned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." – Ezek. 3:20; 2 Thes. 2:11,12. See also Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-31.
We should observe specially in Heb. 10:29 the reference to a sorer punishment to be visited upon the covenant-despisers of this age than that visited upon the same class in the Jewish age, because of the higher privileges and advantages received here and despised. The death penalty there was a hasty visitation of the original Adamic penalty, but the death penalty here upon the wilful covenant-despisers is the second death from which there is no escape. page 220
Thus King Solomon testified to the grace of God manifested to fleshly Israel. His good promises never failed; and to the praise of his goodness we also can bear the same blessed testimony. And when his wonderful plan blossoms out in glorious completeness, the universal testimony will be, There hath not failed one word of all his good promises; for they are all yea and amen in Christ Jesus, the mediator of the New Covenant, as Moses was of the Law Covenant.
Golden Text. – "The Lord raised up judges which delivered them." – Judges 2:16.
It should be noted that the object in raising up judges was a gracious and beneficent one: it was to deliver and bless the people, not to condemn and punish them, though the latter idea of judgment is too often the only thought gathered from it by many minds. The term judgment applies to the whole process of trial and the administration of justice.
In this view of the office of a judge how precious is the promise that our blessed Lord Jesus cometh to judge the world in righteousness. His judgment will be the greatest blessing the world could possibly have. Though it will come in wrath and indignation against all unrighteousness; though it will lay judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet; though it will rudely sweep away every refuge of lies and expose all the hidden things of darkness; though his iron rod will dash the nations to pieces as a potter's vessel; and though he will suddenly bring down every high thing that exalteth itself (Isa. 13:5-9; 28:17; 1 Cor. 4:5; Psa. 2:9; Isa. 2:11), nevertheless his judgment will be for the world's deliverance; for he wounds to heal. And when mankind has been thoroughly submitted to the leveling process of the great "time of trouble," and has been humbled and made teachable by it, then the same wise Judge will turn to bless – to heal the broken hearted, to deliver the captives of sin and death, to speak peace unto the nations, to make wars to cease to the ends of the earth, to give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, and to wipe away all tears from off all faces. – Isa. 19:22; 61:1-3; Zech. 9:10; Psa. 46:9; Isa. 25:8; Rev. 21:4.
In this view of the day of judgment, notwithstanding the commotion that shall attend it, but realizing that the great Judge of all the earth comes to bring forth judgment to victory, to establish truth and righteousness on a firm and enduring footing, and to punish all that oppose that blessed work, we understand the joy of the Prophet-Psalmist, when, looking forward to this glorious time, he exclaimed, Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad; let the fields be joyful; let the sea roar and the floods clap their hands; and let the hills be joyful together before the Lord: for he cometh to judge the world, and the people with equity. – Psalms 98:7-9.
So let our hearts rejoice and our tongues be glad; and let the blessed secret be known among the saints, that the Lord is now present, and that we are living in the days of the Son of man; and let our joyful hearts and voices bid him a royal welcome; for indeed he hath put a new song into our mouths.