|VOL. XXVI.||NOVEMBER 1, 1905.||No. 21|
|Views from the Watch Tower||323|
|Watch Tower Views of Socialism||323|
|A Great Conference for Religious Co-operation||323|
|The Pope on the Bible||323|
|High Churchmen Favor "Higher Criticism"||324|
|Anent the "Withdrawal Letters"||324|
|The Editor's Western Tour||325|
|The Kingston, Jamaica, Convention||326|
|Bible Study for November||327|
|The Remedy Co-Extensive with the Curse||327|
|His Veiled Angels Guard Thee (Poem)||328|
|From Glory to Glory||328|
|Jews Providentially Delivered||330|
|Gathering and Winnowing||333|
'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 other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for the TOWER, will be supplied FREE, if they send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list continually.
These are now in stock in large quantity. Every letter you send through the mail may be a more or less potent messenger of the Truth, even on its outside, by the use of these envelopes. They catch the attention not only of those to whom they are addressed, but postmen and others have an opportunity, and sometimes the curiosity, to read their message of peace – the gospel in condensed form. Price, 25c per 100, postpaid.
Our output of tracts free as Sample Copies is limited. This year please follow this plan: Procure wrapping paper of the size in which your tracts go to you, write on these the addresses of all of your friends and acquaintances of the godly sort and mail the bundle to us. Do not this year send us "all sorts" of addresses. Do "sharp shooting" rather. You may repeat the lists every quarter if you desire, indicating other tracts for same, as we would not remember which were previously sent.
SOME of the dear friends have quite mistaken our recent publication of items on the progress of Socialism. In the volumes of the MILLENNIAL DAWN series (especially in VOL. IV) we have endeavored to show that we have great sympathy with every movement designed to benefit mankind – including Socialism – but that from the Bible view-point the hope of the world lies in none of these human devices, but only in the second coming of Christ and in the Kingdom of the heavens then to be established. We do point out, however, that God purposes to allow mankind to try various projects for its own relief, only to learn their futility, and that the end of all these failures will be discouragement and anarchy; but that the Lord's people, better informed than others through the Scriptures, will not only not be led to discouragement and anarchy, but can by faith rejoice in the troubles, knowing of the glorious outcome of peace and blessing these will usher in – the Millennium.
The Church and its supreme Pontiff are blamed by Emile Combes, ex-Premier of France, for the disruption of the Concordat. As Mr. Combes was the leading spirit in the severance of this bond between Church and State, his utterance, which appears in the Deutsche Revue (Stuttgart), is probably the most authoritative that has been given out on the Government's side of the dispute. He says in a recent article: –
"It is time that in France an administrative organization of clergy be suppressed, which transforms the pulpit into a political tribune, where with unrestrained liberty all the political and social reforms, all the measures taken in the interests of liberty and progress are controverted and pointed out to the faithful as so many crimes against religion. Separated from the State the Church can utter what opinions it likes about statesmen and their acts, but this can not be permitted in a Church allied to the State by a treaty which accords to ecclesiastics a legally recognized authority and all the privileges of State functionaries."
More than seventeen million church members, belonging to twenty-six different communions, we are told, will be represented at the great gathering in New York city, beginning November 15, to discuss and plan for church federation. Cooperation in service is said to be the goal the conference will have in view, and no organic union of denominations will be attempted. The idea of federation, represented by this conference, believes the Chicago Tribune is practicable "because it makes possible union without fusion" and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle surmises that its resulting organization "may become one of the great moral social and religious factors of the coming age." The coming conference has been planned and promoted by the National Federation of Churches and Christian Organizations, which came into being in 1900.
"Should the present promise of its import be realized, there should be an influence in its utterance and its action so powerful as to create a new epoch in the progress of Christ's Kingdom....It is, however, in the Evangelical Alliance of the United States of America that the historian will find the organized influence which has most strongly emphasized the principles underlying federation." – See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. III., chap. 6.
It betokens a marked change in the attitude of the Church of Rome toward the Bible for the laity, when the Pope gives his blessing to an association engaged in sending it forth in the language of the people. The St. Jerome Association is engaged in this for Italy, and when requested to bestow his blessing on the new work and the spread of the Gospel, the Pope answered: –
"Gladly do I give my blessing, and that with both hands and with full heart, for I do not doubt that this [R3652 : page 324] work will produce the richest fruit and is already blessed by God. The more we read the Gospel the stronger our faith becomes. The Gospels are writings that are valuable for everybody and under all circumstances. I have lived among the common people and know what they want and what pleases them. Tell them the simplest Bible stories and you will have attentive listeners and effect blessed results.
"Your purpose is to spread the Gospels. You are doing a noble work. Some people think that the peasants, with their plain, everyday way of thinking, would not profit by the reading of the Scriptures. This is incorrect. The average peasant is a shrewder thinker than we may suspect, and knows how to draw the correct lessons from the Scriptures, often even better than many of the preachers. But it is not only the common people and the lower classes who will profit by the reading of the Scriptures.
"No matter how many prayer books and books of devotion there may be for the priests, none is better than the Gospels. This is an unsurpassed book of devotion, the true bread of life. I grant an especial apostolic blessing on all those who preach the Gospel, who hear and read it, whether on a Sunday or a week day. I bestow my blessing on all members of the St. Jerome Society and all who cooperate in the sacred work of spreading the Gospel."– Christian Intelligencer.
London. – A committee of 101 clergymen sent out a request some time ago for petitions on the subject of Biblical criticism, or the so-called "higher criticism." Over 1700 clergymen of the Church of England having signed the declaration, the widespread and far-reaching character of the petition has aroused comment and caused criticism. That 1700 clergymen should have signed a document of that kind is regarded as an amazing thing. The document itself calls attention to the momentous intellectual character of "higher criticism" or Biblical criticism.– Globe-Democrat.
Lincoln, Neb. – Fifteen per cent. of the Protestant churches of Nebraska are without pastors, and it is impossible to secure ministers to fill the vacant pulpits. According to reports received at the headquarters of the Congregational, Methodist and Lutheran churches here scarcely a week passes but some minister breaks away from the calling to engage in another line of work. The prosperity of the farming industry has called away the greater number, but many have also gone into business and other professions.
"To the student of architecture it may be surprising to learn that the arch, until recently supposed to have been unknown to the ancients, was frequently employed by the pre-Babylonians. Such an arch, in a poor state of preservation, was, a few years ago, discovered in the lowest stratum, beneath the Babylonian city of Nippur. More recently an arched drain was found beneath the old city of Fara, which the Germans have excavated in Central Babylonia. The city, although one of the earliest known, was built upon an earlier ruin, and provided with an arched drain constructed of small plano-convex bricks. It measures about one meter in height and has an equal width.
"While delving among the ruined cities of the world, we are thus finding that at the time when we supposed that man was primitive and savage, he provided his home and city with 'improvements' which we are inclined to call modern, but which we are only reinventing."– Prof. E. J. Banks.
When we celebrate the Lord's Memorial supper we show forth his death, until he come – until at his coming he changes, glorifies us, setting us up as his Kingdom. – 1 Cor. 11:26.
We are using our talents, until he come. – Luke 19:13.
We are fighting the good fight of faith, until he come. – 1 Tim. 6:12-14.
We are enduring tribulation, until he come. – 2 Thess. 1:7.
We are to be patient until he come. – James 5:8.
We wait for the crown of righteousness, until he come. – 2 Tim. 4:8.
We wait for the crown of glory, until he come. – 1 Pet. 5:4.
We wait for re-union with departed friends, until he come. – 1 Thess. 4:13-18.
We wait for Satan to be bound until he come. – Rev. 20:3.
Until he come, then, does not point to a special moment, hour or day, but to the period of his presence (parousia), during which his "harvest" work will gather and glorify his saints and establish his promised Kingdom.
When such are ready to act they need assistance, advice. They are liable to one of two extremes, according [R3653 : page 325] to their natural temperament: either (1) with too much combativeness they are liable to act and speak too harshly of those who are still asleep, as they once were, or (2) with too little positiveness they are likely to miss a glorious opportunity for declaring meekly but firmly for the Lord and his Word. Thereby they not only lose a blessed reward at the time, but they unwittingly place in the hands of the Adversary a lash for their future chastisement, a cord for the restraint of their influence.
Alas! how often we witness this last experience. Some dear brother or sister purposes a quiet withdrawal from one of the sects, and sends his letter of withdrawal to the pastor or other prominent official. The matter is kept quiet, his name remains on the rolls, and his associates consider his absence an evidence of unfaithfulness to his covenants. Gradually they come to regard him as a backslider and his influence is forever damaged. Worse than this: sometimes the pastor or official, seeking to serve his sect, will falsely and maliciously and slanderously circulate rumors that he has become an infidel, or that he is mentally unbalanced. This is done in order to offset the influence of the Truth upon other members of the sect, which they feel must be upheld at any cost.
To meet these conditions we have prepared a "Withdrawal Letter" suitable to all cases, which we advise should be sent to every member of the congregation withdrawn from. You did not join the minister, but the congregation, and you should address to the latter your withdrawal. We print these "Withdrawal Letters" in large quantities and supply them with tracts and envelopes free. You merely need to sign and date them, and put on postage and mail them.
These letters are carefully and moderately worded so as to prevent your friends in "Babylon" from misunderstanding the step you are taking, and extends to them your Christian greetings and a helping hand out of a darkness, which to some extent they realize, into God's marvelous light, which, if true disciples, they are longing and seeking for. It is a most kind and effective way of giving your witness for the Truth. And the sooner done the better, though better late than never.
Order a sample of these letters, and if you decide to use it order the quantity necessary for the congregation and get out your testimony, your witness for the Truth, as speedily as possible. We now have a fresh supply.
The evening service for the public was attended by about 600, who gave closest attention to our discourse on "The Oath-bound Covenant." We considered it an excellent hearing, considering that it was a Saturday night – the busiest of the week. The dear friends of the cause brimmed over with the joy of the Lord and shook our hand time and again, some telling that they had come over ten, others over twenty, others fifty, and others over a hundred miles to enjoy the blessed associations of those few hours. Many, with tears, told how they longed for the "General Assembly of the Church of the First-born." We encouraged them to wait patiently for the Lord's time, meantime remembering that all the trials of faith and patient endurance and brotherly kindness and, in general, of our love for the Lord and for all – even our enemies – are necessary for us, that we may be approved and make our calling and election sure.
Here the experiences were almost an exact duplication of those at San Antonio, except that the interested numbered 250 to 300 at the morning and evening sessions, while the service for the public brought out 750. The difference in numbers was due in part, no doubt, to the fact that these sessions were on Sunday. The afternoon topic was "To Hell and Back. Who are there? Hope for many of them." The close attention given and the subsequent greetings from strangers as well as friends, encourage us to hope that a work was accomplished in some hearts at least, and that some heads were assisted to clearer views of the divine character and plan.
We had but one session here. We arrived too late for a morning meeting and left too early for an evening one. About seventy-five of the interested (fifty whites and twenty-five blacks) assembled for an afternoon session which lasted two hours. We received the closest attention while we discussed "The Very Elect," and how we must make our calling and election sure by faithfulness to our covenant. We recalled the Lord's words, "Gather my saints together unto me, they that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice." "They shall be mine in that day when I make up my jewels." The colored friends gave every evidence of being as deeply interested and as fully consecrated as their white brethren and sisters – which is saying a great deal for them. [R3653 : page 326]
The Dallas friends had arranged for excursion rates on the railroad, and nearly a hundred came from nearby points. The morning rally numbered 150. The afternoon session for the interested showed about 250. The evening session for the public was attended by 550. Six symbolized their consecration by water baptism. The attendance and interest were excellent for a week-day. Indeed all of our experiences in Texas, as well as along the entire route, tended to show that the religiously inclined public is becoming more and more awake along the lines of Present Truth. And this is just what we should expect at this the zenith of the "harvest" time.
The Dallas meetings were very enjoyable to us and we trust also to all in attendance. Our afternoon topic was "Consecration unto death" and the glorious rewards – present and future. The topic for the public was, "To Hell and Back."
Our last appointment of the trip was at Sherman, where we had time for a morning session only. About 100 were present, of whom forty were previously interested. During an hour and a half we discoursed to them of the great "Oath-bound Covenant," showing its import to the Church and also to the world. Our words received the closest of attention from thoughtful-looking people, five of whom, we were advised, were preachers of various denominations. A three hours' ride brought us back to Dallas for supper and for our night train homeward.
A ride of two days and two nights brought us to Allegheny and the Bible House, as pleased to be back to the labors of the office as we were pleased just a month before to depart to visit and address the far distant brethren. Our journey covered 8,650 miles and included thirty-three addresses of an average of an hour and a half each, besides numerous semi-private talks. We thanked God for the privileges enjoyed, and felt refreshed in spirit, though weary in flesh by reason of the rapid going necessary in the interest of the work demanding our speedy return.
We were met by a reception committee at the depot and on arrival at the Bible House found the office force (30) gathered to greet us and welcome us back with outstretched hands and kindly words and with a hymn and prayer of thanksgiving for our home-coming. In the evening (Saturday) about two hundred of the [R3654 : page 326] Allegheny congregation met us in the Chapel and extended their welcome similarly through a chairman and by praise and prayer. We thanked these dear ones, as well as the morning gathering, for their many manifestations of love, and assured them that, although we had met many dear ones residing afar off, and although we love all and enjoyed the fellowship of all, yet none could be more precious to our heart than the tried and true of the home congregation.
Then we detailed some of the incidents of our tour and assured the friends that we brought love and best wishes and heart greetings to them from all along the route. We concluded with a little dissertation on Christian love – its breadth and depth – chiefly toward God and the brethren who have his heart-likeness, but also sympathetically toward all men, yea, even toward our enemies who despitefully misrepresent us and our endeavors, even as they have long misrepresented the Father and his plan.
Theatre Royal was the scene of such a "holy convocation" as it had never before witnessed, while the joys of the brethren were two-fold increased as we remembered daily that our loved ones in Portland were enjoying a similar blessing at the same time; and some one even suggested that perhaps our brethren in the Most Holy were holding a sympathetic convention during those very hours. Thrilling thought!
A rich program awaited the longing appetites of those who came, and none were turned away empty. Two subjects were calculated to draw the public, and they did not fail. About 400 were present on Friday night, Sept. 8th, to hear "Which is the True Church?" and more than 600 on Sunday night to listen to a discourse on "The Day of Judgment."
The closing session was a question meeting which became extremely interesting because of the presence of a reverend opposer of the Truth, whose violent speeches and scurrilous writings were well known throughout the Island. Because of his previous threat we were at first fearful that the assistance of the police authorities would have been needed, but the Sword of the Lord and of Gideon was sufficient, and the gentleman who wrote "Millennial Dawnism Condemned" has been trying ever since to re-gild his tinsel by nightly harangues at the public square in the presence of the unintelligent populace. We are glad to believe that his questions were providentially permitted for the enlightenment of our visitors, many of whom, as a result, have become friends to the cause of Truth.
31. How does brotherly kindness apply "the Golden Rule"? F.376, par. 1,2; F.406, par. 1, to 409; Z.'00-218 (2nd col. par. 1 to 4) and 219 (2nd col. par. 1,2).
34. How should brotherly kindness consider "social obligations"? F.588 to 590.
36. How should brotherly love regard visiting, "borrowing a neighbor's time"? F.570, par. 1, to 572.
37. What is the relation between brotherly love and communism? D.474 to 481.
38. Do those who have reached "the mark" still have trials along the line of brotherly love? .F190, par. 1,2.
39. Why is brotherly love "one of the final and most searching tests" of the brethren and how may we prepare to meet it? 1 Pet. 3:8; Z.'99-88 (1st col. par. 3,4; 2nd col. par. 1,2); Z.'98-201 (1st col. par. 1).
The difficulty with such probably arises from the fact that they have failed to notice that verses 13-17 are parenthetic, and that the main line of the Apostle's argument passes from verse 12 to verse 18, irrespective of the parenthesis, which is merely incidental, being introduced to offset a misapprehension on the part of the Jews to the effect that their Law Covenant conflicted with the New Covenant in Christ, of which Paul was a minister. It was difficult for the Jews to accept the fact that under the New Covenant there was no difference made between Jew and Gentile, but that "the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him." – Rom. 10:12.
In verses 12,18-21, the Apostle is showing that by one man sin entered into the world, and death as the penalty for sin; and that this sentence of death passed upon all men because all had sinned – not all individually, but as represented in Adam, in whose loins we all were. "Therefore," he adds, verse 18, "as by the offense of one [Adam] sentence came upon all men to condemnation; even so [by the same law of heredity] by the righteousness of one [of the one who gave his life a ransom] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life: for as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many [all of the race who will accept it] be made righteous." In other words, Adam, the head or progenitor of the entire human race, could only bequeath to his posterity the remainder of the ever-declining inheritance which he himself possessed, viz., a spark of life under condemnation to death; but our Lord Jesus, by the payment of the penalty upon Adam, thereby gained the legal right to restore him to life, and in so doing gained the right also to restore all his posterity. And when the "appointed time" for thus restoring life to all the race has come, he instead of Adam, will be the father, life-giver, or head of the new race, as it is written, "He shall be called... the everlasting Father." (Isa. 9:6.) And the birthright of the race under this head, Christ, unlike that under the first head, Adam, will be life instead of death. And that birthright can never be taken away unless forfeited by individual wilful transgression against the known righteous law of God, with full ability to keep it.
Thus we see that the gist of the Apostle's argument is to prove that by the law of legal heredity the race which, by the working of this law, inherited death from its first head, Adam, will, by the same law inherit life from its second head or re-generator, Christ, and that the remedy is co-extensive with the curse. This being the substance of his argument, it is, of course, presumable that his parenthetic remarks are not in opposition to, but in harmony with it. Thus we read –
Verse 13 – "For until [previous to] the law [of Moses and the Law Covenant with Israel] sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law." Consequently there must have been a law, and a covenant based upon that law, previous to the law of Moses. What law was that? It was the Law of God originally inscribed, not upon tables of stone, but upon the heart of the first perfect man, and which was gradually more or less effaced in his posterity, because they did not like to retain a knowledge of it. (Rom. 1:28.) That law, whether ignored or recognized, has always been in the world, and sin against that law has always been imputed to men.
Verse 14. "Nevertheless [although the Mosaic law had not yet come, to revive in the Jews the knowledge of God], death reigned from Adam to Moses [just the same], even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression [i.e., wilfully; for it reigned over infants as well as over those capable of personal sin], who is the figure [type] of him that was to come [of Christ, the second head of the race]." Thus it is manifest that all mankind were born under the original law, the authority of which was never annulled, and under which all were condemned representatively in Adam, the first head of the race, but who, thank God, in this office of headship was a type of a [R3655 : page 328] second head, through which our deliverance should come.
Verse 15. "But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. [The results of the offense and the free gift are entirely different.] For if through the offense of one [Adam, the] many be dead [under the condemnation to death], much more the grace [favor] of God, and the gift [of life] by grace [by the divine favor], hath abounded unto many." From the one head we inherit death: from the other, the re-generator, we shall inherit life.
Verse 16. "And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the sentence was by one [offense] to condemnation, but the free gift is [the forgiveness] of many offenses unto justification." Note the contrast of the one and the many here, the object of which is to increase our estimation of the value of the free gift.
Verse 17. "For if by one man's offense death reigned by [that] one [Adam], much more they which receive abundance of grace [of divine favor] and of the gift of [imputed] righteousness [the righteousness of Christ imputed to us by faith] shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ [who has not only purchased us and covered us with the robe of his own imputed righteousness, but who will also completely eliminate sin from our nature so that men shall have an actual righteousness of their own, entitling them to reign in life as kings of the earthly dominion which God at first gave to Adam]."
Thus by these parenthetic remarks, which are seen to be in perfect harmony with the main argument, the Jews were shown that their Law Covenant did not in the least interfere with the original sentence to death of the entire race (all in Adam), nor with the consequent gracious provision of life for all mankind, through Christ, and not for the Jews alone.
Verse 20. After clearly announcing that the remedy for sin was co-extensive with the penalty (verses 18,19), the Apostle – reading the inquiry in the Jewish mind as to the object of the Mosaic law, if it were not intended to give life – further adds, "Moreover the law [the Mosaic law] entered that the offense might abound. [It brought with it a clearer knowledge of the will of God, and therefore an increased sense of sin, and an increased responsibility which made transgressions even more blameworthy. But what of it? Did God mean only to afflict Israel more heavily than the rest of the world? By no means.] But where sin abounded [where the clearer knowledge of the Law of God was given, which enabled them also the more fully to see their short-comings and brought upon them the greater responsibility], grace did much more abound [Israel had many special favors, as well as chastisements, from God]: that as sin hath reigned unto death [both in Israel and in the world], even so [both in Israel and in the world] might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord."
Our main object, therefore, in studying God's Word and his character as therein revealed, should always be to bring our own hearts and minds into closer sympathy and likeness and co-operation with his. As the Apostle says (1 Thes. 4:3), "This is the will of God, even your sanctification" – our full setting apart, or consecration of mind and heart entirely to the Lord, that he may complete the good work of transforming us into his own glorious likeness, by the operations of his Spirit through his Word, and thus fit us for the enjoyment of his abounding grace in the ages to come.
In the above words of the Apostle we notice particularly that the statement is made of all the Church – we all are being changed from glory to glory. And the inference is consequently a strong one, that those who are not being so changed are not of the class addressed. This is a solemn thought, and one that claims the most careful consideration of all the consecrated. The question [R3656 : page 329] with us is not, Have we made a full consecration of ourselves to the Lord? but, having made such consecration, are we, in accordance with that consecration, fully submitting ourselves to the transforming influences of the Spirit of God to be changed daily more and more fully to the glorious likeness of our God?
Like the Apostle, then, addressing all the consecrated and faithful, we also of today may say, We all are being changed from glory to glory under the molding, fashioning influences of the Spirit of God. We can see it in each other, thank God! and we glory in it. Yesterday the mallet of divine providence struck a blow upon that member of the body of Christ, and an unsightly excrescence of pride fell off, and he looks so much more beautiful today, because he did not resist the blow, but gracefully submitted to it. The day before, we saw another under the wearing, painful, polishing process, to which he patiently submitted, and oh, how he shines today! And from day to day we see each other studiously contemplating the divine pattern and striving to copy it; and how we can note the softening, refining and beautifying effect upon all such! So the Spirit of God is at work upon all who fully submit themselves to his will.
But while the mallet and chisel and the polishing sand of divine providence do a very necessary part of the transforming work, by way of relieving us of many of the old and stubborn infirmities of the flesh, which cannot be so promptly and so fully eradicated by the gentler influences of the Spirit, the Apostle points us to the specially appointed means for our transformation in the careful and constant contemplation of the glory of God as revealed in his Word, and also in his blessed Ambassador, Jesus Christ, saying, "We all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory."
"With open face" would signify without any intervening vail of prejudice or fear or superstition, but with simplicity of heart and mind. So we behold the glory (the glorious character) of the Lord – not with actual vision, but as in a glass, as reflected in the mirror of his Word and as exemplified also in his living Word, Jesus Christ. And to aid us in this study we are promised the blessed influences of the Spirit of the Lord, who will guide us into all truth and show us things to come.
As we look into the mirror what a glorious vision we have of the divine justice, which we promptly recognize as the very foundation of God's throne (Psa. 97:2), as well as the foundation of all our present and future security. If we could not recognize the justice of God we could have no assurance that his gracious promises would ever be fulfilled; for we would say, Perhaps he will change his mind. But, on the contrary, we can say, He changeth not, and whatsoever he saith shall surely come to pass. See with what inflexible justice the sentence upon our sinful race has been executed! Generation after generation, for over sixty centuries, has witnessed it; and no power in heaven or earth could revoke that sentence until the claims of justice had been fully met by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Justice, says the Word of God, must be maintained inviolate at any cost. And herein we read not only our rightful condemnation as a race of sinners, but also our final, complete and glorious deliverance, because "God is just to forgive us our sins" (1 John 1:9), since the precious blood of Christ redeemed us from the curse of death.
And while we thus read justice in the character of God, and mark with what scrupulous care he regards and respects this principle in all his dealings with his creatures, we see how he would have us respect the same principle in all our dealings. Thus we are led to consider what is the exact line of justice in this and that and the other transaction; and to remember also that this must be the underlying principle in all our conduct: or, in other words, that we must be just before we can be generous. This principle should, therefore, be very marked in the character of every Christian.
Next we mark the love and mercy of God. The death sentence upon our fallen race was a most merciful sentence. It was equivalent to saying: See, I have of my own free favor granted you life and all its blessings to be enjoyed forever on condition of its proper use; but now, since you have abused my favor, I take it away and you shall return to the dust from whence you came.
True, in the process of dying and of bringing forth a dying race to share the penalty, the mercy of God is not so manifest to the unthinking; but those who see the plan of God, discover in all this, not the decree of a merciless tyrant, but a merciful wisdom, but faintly disclosed in the promise that the seed of the woman shall in due time crush evil effectually – bruise the serpent's head – and deliver the entire race once generated in sin, by afterward regenerating all who will to life and all its blessed privileges. And in this mercy, in all its multiplied forms, we see the verification of the statement that "God is love." Thus we learn to be loving and merciful and kind both to the thankful and also to the unthankful.
We mark also our Heavenly Father's bountiful providence and his tender care for all his creatures; for even the sparrows are clothed and fed, and the unconscious lilies are arrayed in glory. Here we learn precious lessons of divine benevolence and grace. And thus, through all the catalogue of the moral and intellectual graces which go to make up a glorious character, we see in the mirror of the divine Word the model for our [R3656 : page 330] imitation; and in contemplation of all that is lovely, as embodied in him, and of all that is pure and holy and beautiful, we are changed little by little in the course of years to the same blessed likeness – from glory to glory. So be it: let the good work go on until every grace adorns the spotless robe of our imputed righteousness, received by faith in the blessed Son of God, whose earthly life was a perfect illustration of the Father's character, so that he could say – "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." Let us, therefore, mark well the love of Christ, the gentleness, the patience, the faithfulness, the zeal, the personal integrity and the self-sacrificing spirit. Mark well, then imitate his example and shine in his likeness.
The Apostle adds (2 Cor. 4:7) that the fact that we thus hold this treasure of a transformed mind in these defective earthen vessels proves the excellency of the power of God, and not of us. And so, by constant yielding to the influences of the Spirit of God, we may show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Pet. 2:9.) Oh, let our efforts and prayers continually be that these poor earthen vessels may more and more show forth the praises of our God! Let them be clean in body and mind; let no evil communications proceed out of the mouth; and let no actions unworthy of the sons of God dishonor these living temples of the holy Spirit. True, on account of our deformities we may very imperfectly perform good works; but, by the grace of God, let us at least refrain from known evil.
A record of this great testing is furnished us in the Book of Esther. The king of Persia at this time, about forty years after the completion of the Temple, was Ahasuerus, otherwise known as Xerxes, who chose for his queen the beautiful and accomplished Esther, a Jewess – apparently without particular thought or knowledge respecting her nationality, and without knowing that Mordecai, one of his faithful attendants, a keeper of the palace gate, was her uncle. The story of Esther is a most remarkable one, and confirms the proverb that "Truth is stranger than fiction."
Haman, one of the nobles of the land and a favorite with the king, became incensed against Mordecai because the latter would not show him as much respect as others of the people. His pride excited his animosity to such an extent that he secured the king's decree against all Jews everywhere throughout the civilized world under the control of the Persian government. The edict was sweepingly broad, and directed the people in every quarter of the Persian empire to destroy, to kill, to cause to perish, all Jews both young and old, both little children [R3657 : page 330] and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month. This commandment of the king was written out in various languages of the various peoples of the realm, signed with the king's seal and sent out by special messengers, a year being allowed to give ample time for the information to reach even the most distant quarters of the realm; and as an incitement to the doing of the work thoroughly, those who killed the Jews were given the privilege of taking all their possessions. Haman felt that he now had accomplished a great revenge against the Jew who stood at the gate. Mordecai and all the Jews, on learning of the edict, were of course greatly troubled. They had but a year to live. We may safely assume that such an experience as this would do more to draw the hearts of the Jews to the Lord in reverence and supplication than anything else that could have occurred to them. They fasted and prayed, in sackcloth and ashes.
Our lesson touches upon the matter at this point. The proclamation and edict had been in force for more than a month. Queen Esther had heard of her uncle's mourning in sackcloth, and its cause, and felt a special interest in him, as she had been an orphan and had been his special protege. Mordecai assured her that it was not only for him she should mourn, but that this edict included herself as well as all Jews, and that she should bestir herself to bring the matter before the king, and if possible, to have another edict issued which would counteract this in some measure. But there lay the difficulty: the laws of the Medes and Persians altered not, could not be changed, must stand as though they were unalterable. Nevertheless, something must be done, and the queen was the only one in position to make any approach to the king. For others to have done so would have cost their own lives.
Mordecai, evidently trusting in the Lord that the decree could never be accomplished, called the queen's attention to the fact that quite possibly she had come into her present position of honor and privilege for the very purpose of staying this evil against her people. His suggestion was that quite likely God's providence had brought her to that place to be the divine agency for preserving the Jews from the evil malignity of their enemies in power. But he added that if she failed to respond to these opportunities, to manifest loyalty to the Lord's people, failed to risk something on their behalf, it would mean her own loss anyway shortly; and that he believed that God would provide some means for the deliverance of the people in general. It was her opportunity, it was her duty to act, and the responsibility he cast upon her. [R3657 : page 331]
There is a beautiful lesson of faith here that should appeal to all of the Spiritual Israelites. Whatever we have, whatever positions we occupy of influence or power or wealth or confidence in the esteem of others, is so much of a stewardship granted to us by the Lord and respecting which we should expect to give an account; and if the account would be rendered with joy, we must be faithful even to the risking of our lives in the interests of the Lord's people, the Lord's cause. Let us lay this feature of Esther's experience to heart, that we may draw valuable lessons therefrom, helpful to us in the spiritual way. The suggestion that she had not come to a place of honor and privilege by accident, but that the Lord had overruled in the matter, is one that should appeal to all Israelites indeed. Whatever we have is of the Lord's providence; let us use it faithfully and as wisely as possible for him and his; thus our own blessings and joys will be increased as well as our favor with the Lord.
The queen's answer was that Mordecai, as well as all the people, knew that if she or anyone else should attempt to go into the king's presence uninvited it would mean their death, unless the king chanced to feel favorable to them and extended his golden sceptre. She remarked, also, that evidently the king was not feeling very gracious toward her, because he had not called her into his presence for more than a month. That her fears were not groundless is evident to those acquainted with the history of those times. For instance, it is recorded of this very king that when en route for a war he rested at Olaenae of Phrygia, where he was the guest of Pythias, who entertained him magnificently; but when the latter begged as a favor that of his five sons in the king's army the eldest might be left with him in his old age, the brutal Xerxes in a rage caused that son to be slain in the presence of his father, the body divided into two parts, the one part placed on one side the road and the other on the other side, and the whole army marched between them. Of another Persian king it is related that to show his skill in archery he shot an arrow into the heart of his young cup-bearer, the son of his greatest favorite, Prexaspes. It is related of this same Xerxes that he allowed one of his previous queens to mutilate one of her rivals most horribly. "Her breasts, nose, lips, ears, were cut off and thrown to the dogs, her tongue was torn out by the roots, and thus disfigured she was sent back to her home."
Persuaded that no other course was open than to risk her life in approaching the king, Esther sent word to her uncle and through him to all the Jews of the palace city that they should fast with her for three days, and this, of course, implied prayer. We cannot suppose that they abstained absolutely from food and drink for three days, but that they went on short allowance, avoiding anything that would be specially pleasurable and all luxuries. This prayer and fasting convinces us that not all the Jews who had faith in the Lord had returned to Palestine, that some of this kind were still scattered throughout all Asia. No doubt the exceptional trial of this time thus proved a great blessing and strengthening to the faith of Esther and her uncle and all the Jews.
At the close of the three days the queen, attired in her best royal robes to appear as attractive as possible, approached the king. Thus she used wisdom and sought to cooperate with her prayers for divine guidance and blessing. The king was very gracious to her and extended the golden sceptre, which she touched, and then perceiving that only some urgent matter of request had thus brought her into his presence he inquired what he could do for her, assuring her that it should be done even to the extent of half of his kingdom – the latter expression, however, being doubtless a mere formality indicating great interest.
The queen's plans were evidently all well thought out, although at this time she was only about fifteen years of age. Doubtless the Lord granted the wisdom necessary for the occasion. She did not communicate her request, but rather led on the king's expectancy by inviting him first to come to a banquet which she had arranged in his honor, and to which also his most trusted officer, Haman, was invited. The appointment was kept, and at that banquet the queen again parried the inquiry as to her real desires by asking that the same two should honor her by attending a banquet on the day following also, and this was agreed to. Some of the Lord's dear people of the spiritual Israel are a little inclined to go to extremes and, trusting in the Lord, do nothing to forward the cause they wish to serve. We believe that Esther's course is a good example of propriety. We should both watch and pray, labor and wait, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. We should do all in our power while trusting to the Lord for the results, assured that he is able to make up all of our deficiencies, but at the same time leaving as little deficiency as possible.
Meantime the Lord worked upon the king from another standpoint, we know not how – divine providence has a thousand ways for its operation. The king passed a sleepless night, and seems to have inferred in some manner that he had been derelict to some obligation – that some one who had done him a favor had not been suitably rewarded. He called for the reading of the court records as to various incidents, and amongst these noted an occasion on which two of his trusted palace servants had conspired to take his life and had been frustrated by the exposure of their plot by Mordecai. No doubt the king was guided to this matter in some way by the Lord's providence. He inquired what recompense had been made to Mordecai, what had been done for him, how had he been rewarded for this faithfulness to the king? Finding that no special reward had been given he called for Haman to offer suggestions.
The latter had been grieving over what he considered Mordecai's insult to him in not bowing to him, and feeling very confident of his influence with the king he had already erected a gallows in the court of his own house, purposing to have Mordecai hanged thereon by the king's decree before another day. He had come to the palace for the very purpose of requesting Mordecai's life when he was inquired for by the king, and asked to suggest what would be suitable honor to be done to a man whom the king desired to honor. Thinking that he was the person to be honored he suggested the king's horse, the king's robe, the king's crown, and one of the king's chief men to lead the horse throughout the city proclaiming in a loud voice that the king was thus honoring the one who rode. To his surprise the king directed him to carry out this program with Mordecai as the honored man, and himself the king's representative leading the horse and proclaiming the king's favor. [R3658 : page 332] The king's word could not be disputed or even questioned, and the matter was carried out in every detail, but Haman, covered with shame and mortification, returned to his own house for consolation from his friends for his wounded pride.
In the afternoon the messenger arrived to escort him to the banquet with the king and the queen. Thither the unhappy man went, little surmising what more there was in store for him. In the midst of the banquet the king again pressed the queen to know the important thing she had to request. Her time had come, and she besought the king for her own life and the life of her people, telling him that their enemies had inveighed against them for their utter destruction. The king, evidently failing to comprehend, asked who was the wicked person who had thus plotted to kill his queen and all her family connections, and she replied, This wicked Haman, who is with us at the banquet board. The king was perturbed in mind and walked from the banquet room into the garden to meditate what course he should pursue.
Meantime Haman perceived that everything was going wrong with him, that his life was in jeopardy, and that only the queen's word could spare his life; and so when the king left the apartment Haman made every appeal to the queen for her forgiveness and intercession on his behalf. In his frenzy of fear he forgot the circumstances and surroundings, and was partly stretched upon the couch upon which the queen was reclining at the banquet, when the king re-entered, and noting the situation his wrath knew no bounds. Ascertaining about the gallows, he commanded that Haman should be hanged at once upon the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Haman's estates were conferred upon the queen by the royal decree, and then the queen, explaining that Mordecai, who had once saved the king's life, was her uncle, requested the royal interposition to counteract the effects of the previous edict for the extermination of the Jews.
It was well understood that no decree or edict of the Medes and Persians could be altered, amended, withdrawn – once issued it must stand; but the king gave permission to Mordecai to arrange the matter with the wise men of the palace, so that another decree should be issued which would be equally binding, and which would, in some measure if not fully, offset the first decree. This was done by formulating a decree permitting the Jews throughout the entire realm to defend themselves, and to do to all their enemies all that their enemies were permitted by the first decree to do to them. This last decree was similarly sent by messengers, under the king's seal, to all parts of the empire, and as a result, when the fateful day came which was to have meant the extermination of all the Jews, the Jews privileged by the second decree to defend themselves were prepared, armed, and had favor with the magistrates of all the lands, because the second decree was understood to be a measurable offset to the first, and it was known that Mordecai, a Jew, was now the king's chief counsellor, or, as we would say to-day, Secretary of State. The result was the slaying of thousands throughout the realm, not chiefly the Jews but their opponents, their enemies, some eight hundred of the Jews in the palace city being destroyed.
We are not to look back to this record of the slaying of enemies as an illustration of what Spiritual Israelites are to do. We as Israelites indeed, begotten of the holy Spirit, are to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us and despitefully use us and persecute us. We are to bless and injure not. We are to remember that at this time the Lord had not even revealed his own love. He had revealed his justice and his power but not his love, for the Scriptures declare, "Herein was manifested the love of God, in that he gave his only begotten Son," etc. (1 Jno. 4:9) – it was never manifested before. It is this great love which God has manifested, and which he has inculcated upon those who appreciate his love and who have been benefited by it, that appeals to us. We love him because he first loved us, and we love others because, having learned first to love the Lord, we have experienced an enlargement of heart and a broadening of sympathies. And this breadth of sympathy and love, which is a continual growth in the Christian in its relationship to the others, is proportionate to its exercise toward God. He that loveth God loveth also his brother and his neighbor.
The heart of this lesson is respecting divine providence, divine care over the Lord's people. True, God's providence has not been manifested in favor of the Jews for more than 1,800 years, because they have been cast off for a time, rejected from the Lord's favor, their house left desolate because of their rejection of Messiah. We are glad, however, that the Lord through the apostle has made clear to us that this blindness on their part and rejection of them are not to last forever – that in due time their blindness is to be turned away and the good promises of the Lord are still theirs and shall be fulfilled to them. The Apostle assures us that their casting off is merely until the fulness of the Gentiles shall have been brought in to divine favor, until the full number of the elect Church to be selected from the Gentiles shall have been gathered. With the completion of the elect spiritual Israel, the Apostle assures us that divine favor will again return to natural Israel, who are still beloved for the fathers' sake – these now shall obtain mercy through your [the Church's] mercy – through the mercy of the glorified Christ. – Rom. 11:25-32.
When we note the divine providential care over God's typical people it increases our faith and trust as his spiritual children, for with the Apostle we reason that if God so loved us while we were yet sinners as to give his Son for us, much more does he love us now that we are no more sinners, aliens, strangers, foreigners, but consecrated to him and seeking to walk in the footsteps of our Redeemer. Likewise we reason that if God exercised his providential care in the interests of the typical people he is both able and willing to do as much and more for his spiritual Israel – Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guile – those who have entered into covenant relationship with him and are seeking to walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.
Our Golden Text is in accord with this thought, "The Lord preserveth all them that love him." True, he has a sympathetic love for the world which has led him to provide a redemption for all in due time – all the redeemed ones will have a manifestation of divine love and care over their interests – but now, during the Gospel [R3658 : page 333] age, divine blessings are conferred upon those who will constitute the Church, the body of Christ, who love him more than they love houses or lands, parents or children or self. All who can thus affirm to their own hearts their loyalty to the Lord, their faith and trust in him, may be assured that all things are supervised for their good and working out for their welfare, in matters temporal and eternal.
Added to this unfriendly relationship to their nearest neighbor was the fact that they were continually subject to trouble, loss of life and loss of property from marauding bands. They did not connect these losses and disadvantages properly in their minds, nor see that, rightly received, all these matters would have been working together for good to them, and that anything which would not have been for their welfare the Lord would have hindered. Instead they grew careless and indifferent to religious matters, losing considerably the zeal which first brought them from Babylon. Indeed many of them concluded that they would affiliate more with the Gentiles round about them, thus setting at naught the divine counsel – would seek worldly alliances for themselves and their children. As a result, with many of them religion reached a very low plane – their law was disesteemed and disobeyed.
God, however, still had his eye upon the nation which he had chosen, and which, according to divine purpose, must be sifted yet kept together until the coming of Messiah and the establishment through him of Spiritual Israel. In harmony with this we find that at this time the Lord stirred up the love and zeal of others residing in Babylon, chiefly the children of some who [R3659 : page 333] had declined to participate in the first return under Zerubbabel or were too young to go or to exercise their own volitions at that time. It was nearly seventy-five years after the return of the first company of about 50,000 under the decree of Cyrus that Ezra, a young man filled with religious zeal, became the leader of a company of the Jews still residing in Babylon, and went up with them to inspire and revive those who had first returned and their children and grandchildren meantime born in Palestine. Our lesson relates to the return of this second company.
Xerxes, the Persian king who took Esther to be his queen, and who exalted Mordecai, her uncle, to be chief minister of state in the Persian empire, had been murdered by a palace conspiracy, and his son Artaxerxes was the reigning monarch at the time Ezra undertook the expedition in question. Three things were necessary for the success of the project: First, the king's promise or decree; secondly, money not only for the expenses of the expedition but also to properly forward the work at Jerusalem and encourage those who had become discouraged there; thirdly, the interest of the Jews required to be aroused so that a sufficient number of volunteers might be found. The king furnished the money and gave the necessary authority. This might seem remarkable did we not remember that in the Lord's providence his acquaintance at his father's court as a boy would more or less associate him with Mordecai and other Jews prominent in the empire and inspire him also with a respect for the God of the Jews.
Ezra belonged to the priestly family and evidently was very sincere, not only inspiring the king with confidence in the project but also enlisting the sympathy and cooperation of many of his fellow countrymen to the number of about 1,700 – probably including the families of some of them. These were volunteers – no one had a right to insist upon their going. Some may have gone with more or less of a spirit of adventure, but doubtless having knowledge of conditions at Jerusalem the majority were thoroughly enthused with a religious ardor for God and for his law. Knowing what we do through the records of Ezra's thorough-going character, teaching, practices, we may be sure that no other class would be attracted to the standard raised by him in this expedition. An illustration of his spirit is furnished in the first verse of our lesson.
A certain point for the assembling of those who would return with him had been established at the river Ahava. The first condition enjoined on the assembly was a day of fasting, and we may be sure also a day of prayer to the Lord for his blessing upon the expedition – "That we might humble ourselves before our God and seek of him a straight way for us and for our little ones and for all our substance." It was a great undertaking in those days to set out upon a journey of over eight hundred miles and requiring slow travel, made necessary by the presence of women and children in the company and the absence of vehicles. The journey required about four months' time. True, there was a shorter road through the desert, but that would have been much more unfavorable in every way, and extra hazardous on account of the Bedouin tribes of the desert, who would have sought to take from them the treasures of gold and silver which they took along and which are estimated at between two and three million dollars in our money, but really equivalent to much more than this when measured by the standard of the value of labor now as compared with then. [R3659 : page 334]
Seeking to apply this lesson to spiritual Israel, we see during this Gospel age somewhat similar siftings and tests of the Lord's people. We find to-day that some of the children of the most devout reformers have lapsed into measurable indifference respecting the holy things of the Lord and his law, and are disposed, like the Israelites of the first return, to not only fellowship the world but to amalgamate with it in customs, in habits, in social functions. The spirit of separateness and consecration which enthused their forefathers is dying out, leading to a mixed or Churchianity condition not at all pleasing to the Lord and calling for reformation. On the other hand we see spiritual Israelites coming forward from Babylon with great zeal for the Lord and his cause, and if perhaps we wonder, we find a solution of the matter to be that some of these inherited a blessing from their parents, and we remember the word of the Lord that he would show mercy and favor to many generations of them that love and reverence him.
Ezra seems to have been led to the announcement of the fast by a realization of his own weakness and of the dangers which would beset the Israelites on the journey. Relying upon the Lord's promises given to natural Israel, that they would be blessed in temporal things while obedient to the divine precepts, he had almost boasted of this matter to the king Artaxerxes, saying, "The hand of our God is upon all them that seek him for good, but his power and his wrath are against all them that forsake him." It had been on the strength of this faith and this testimony that the royal decree had gone forth and the moneys had been subscribed, and Ezra felt that now to ask the king for a troop of soldiers for the protection of himself and his associates would have implied at least their doubt of the favor of God toward them or of his ability to protect them.
Realizing the perils of the situation and the danger from enemies, and that he was responsible in great measure for the lives of those who would be under his direction, and that under the circumstances he could not ask for soldiers, Ezra felt all the more the necessity for going before the Lord in prayer and with fasting, and hence the fast was enjoined upon all the people. We cannot doubt this did them good, tending to direct their hearts to the Lord as the great Captain of their Salvation, awakening in them the thought that the whole expedition was based upon faith in the Lord and in his promises as respects the future and the present life.
That there is an advantage in fasting and prayer to the spiritual Israelite is beyond question. Our case is not exactly that of the Israelites under Ezra, and yet there is some similarity. We are not guaranteed earthly blessings or earthly protection against earthly adversaries. As spiritual Israelites, however, we have a still higher guarantee, for in our estimation our spiritual interests as new creatures are higher and grander than all of our earthly interests, beyond comparison. We have the guarantee that, whatever shall befall us, the Lord is able and willing to overrule it for good if we trust in him. It is in proportion as this gracious promise of the Lord fails to be appreciated by us that we look to the world for protection. The very experience of realizing danger and feeling timidity may prove indeed a superior blessing to us if it will but lead us nearer to the Lord – through fasting and prayer.
Fasting, as we have seen heretofore, signifies self-denial. The thought is not the weakening of the body by absolute abstention from food, but rather a disciplining of the body by abstaining from delicacies, relishes, etc. No doubt such fastings are profitable to us in other ways than one. They not only relieve the physical system of over pressure, but with many tend to clarify the mind and make it more acute, more spiritually inclined. We all recognize this as a fact whether we can explain the philosophy of it or not. To all believers, especially to all starting upon a course of consecration, of self-devotion to the Lord and to his cause, we commend fasting in reasonable and proper ways, the denying to one's self the gratification of natural passions, and in general the living moderately, abstemiously, using this world and its comforts and blessings as not abusing them – the using of them in so far and in such a manner as will be to the highest advantage as new creatures in Christ. With the consecrated Christian this is not only the incident of a day but the course of a life. His every day is a fast day, a day of self-denial as respects any and everything sinful, and as respects any and everything that would not inure to the spiritual advantage of himself or others.
Our fasting is like our baptism – it has a definite point of beginning and a definite point of ending. It begins with our baptism even unto death and it ends in death. These self-deniers, these fasters, are the self-sacrificers, the overcomers of the world, to whom the Lord has promised his special blessing of spiritual favors, peace, joy and all the fruits and graces of the Spirit in the present time, and by and by the everlasting blessedness of fellowship with himself in all the joys and perfections and completeness of the Kingdom condition – glory, honor and immortality.
Ezra says, "So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was entreated of us." This verse could be applied in full measure to the spiritual Israelites who, under the lead of the great High Priest of our profession, are travelling to the New Jerusalem. Their fasting and prayers to the Lord for protection and help along the narrow way and for success to the journey's end are heard, and the Lord assures us in advance that all such petitions are granted. It is our Father's good pleasure to give the holy Spirit to those who ask, and to make all things work together for their good, and to bring them under the leading of the great Chief Shepherd and ultimately to the Kingdom. In other words, "He is faithful who has called us, who also will do it." (1 Thess. 5:24) – he will do all he has promised to do, exceedingly more abundantly than we could have asked of him or expected. The whole matter is with us: if our consecration is based upon faith in the redemptive work of our Lord, if it is a full and complete consecration, and if we live it out day by day, the results will be all and more than we ever expected.
Our lesson shows that Ezra divided the wealth contributed by the Jews throughout Babylonia and Persia and by the king amongst twelve prominent men of the Levitical tribe, strict count being kept of what [R3660 : page 335] each received and he being held responsible for the delivery of that amount to the properly constituted representatives of the Jews at Jerusalem. Thus our Lord, who is the Captain of our journey and who is bringing us to the heavenly Kingdom, gives to every one of his followers pounds and talents for which they must ultimately give account.
In verse 28 Ezra said to these twelve men, "Ye are holy unto the Lord and the vessels are holy, and the gold and silver are a freewill offering unto God, the God of your fathers. Watch ye and keep them, until ye weigh them before the chief of the priests and the Levites and the princes of the fathers' houses of Israel at Jerusalem in the chambers of the house of the Lord." The chambers of the Temple were the little rooms of the court, separate from the Temple yet connected therewith. In these the officiating priests lived, and in them were stored the treasures belonging to the Temple and its service; they were, therefore, the safety deposit vaults of that time for the Lord's treasury.
We can see the responsibility that rested upon those men, yet still greater responsibility rests upon us who have received of the Lord's spiritual gifts and treasures, his great Truth. If it was required of those men handling earthly treasures that they should be faithful and watchful, diligent, much more may this be reasonably required of us – "A charge to keep I have, a God to glorify." All of these lessons should come to us as fresh reminders of our responsibility, not for our discouragement, but reversely to make us more watchful, more careful, more zealous, more appreciative of the riches of God's grace committed to us. Those of old time were to hide their treasure, but we are commanded to show ours on every occasion – "Let your light so shine before men, that they seeing your good works may glorify your Father who is in heaven." The more we let our light shine, the brighter it will shine; the more we use and display the riches of God's grace entrusted to us, the more valuable will be our treasure and the more safe we will be, for it is a treasure which our enemies will not really covet, and our faithfulness in acknowledging the Lord in all our ways will assure us of his protection and care.
Ezra and his company, after a four months' journey, arrived safe at Jerusalem, the Lord having indeed kept them and delivered them from the marauding bands of enemies on the journey. Then it was that Ezra's real work began. He found matters at Jerusalem and throughout Judea in a much worse condition than he had anticipated, and was used of the Lord in instituting a very radical national reformation which proved a great blessing to the people, though it sifted out some of their number.
Ezra magnified the Law, showing the people how the calamities that had befallen them as a nation were all foretold in the Law and were all the result of a failure to keep that Law, and the proper course now was not only to rebuild the Temple, as they had done, but to go back to the Law and seek to keep it inviolate to the best of their ability. He pointed to the fact that they had made unlawful unions with the tribes and nationalities surrounding them, and that the only course remaining was to separate themselves from all heathen people. This involved special trouble and trial in cases where Jews had married heathen wives, and Ezra's course would be roundly denounced by the entire civilized world to-day; but evidently he did the proper thing at the proper time in God's estimation, and was the divine instrument in sharply separating between the Jews and other peoples. This spirit has persisted amongst the Jews ever since, and the effect has been what the Lord desired, the keeping of that nation and people comparatively separate and distinct from all others. True, it wrought great hardship upon the wives who were put away and the children who were thus alienated, though much the same course is to-day prescribed by law against the Mormons, and the wives of plural marriages and bigamists.
A lesson for spiritual Israelites may be found herein, though not according to the exact letter of Ezra's teaching. The spiritual Israelite is directed by the Captain of our Salvation, through the Apostle Paul as his mouthpiece, to be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers in marriage, and to have as little as possible to do with the world in general. Nevertheless the spiritual Israelite is enjoined that if the unbelieving husband or wife remain and it be possible to live together in unity even under trying circumstances, they should do it; but if the unbelieving one depart, let him depart, consider it to be of the Lord's providence that the Israelite should be free from a vexatious alliance, though he would not be free to remarry.
The call of Ezra's teaching, enforced by the word of the Lord through the Law upon the Israelites who had gotten into worldly conditions and alliances, must have been very similar to the proclamation of Present Truth to-day amongst Protestants. After having come out of Babylon to the extent of leaving Roman Catholicism, they have become involved with the world in a system which may very properly be termed Babylonish – Churchianity. The Lord's people have entered worldly alliances through worldly sects and parties, contrary to the divine injunction and the spirit of the divine law, which commands us to be subject in religious matters to the Lord and to him alone. These misalliances with the daughters of Rome are so general in our day that only the Israelites indeed will have the spiritual ears to hear the message or the spiritual courage to break off the improper union, to stand out separate from all earthly alliances as the people of God, recognizing one Head of the one Church whose names are written in heaven – recognizing as brethren all who are united to that one Head, and repudiating all false bodies of Christ (churches) as well as the false heads to which they are united.
This is the particular trial apparently of our day. The voice of the Lord is being sounded forth in every quarter of Christendom, saying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, Come out of her, my people, that ye partake not of her sins and receive not of her plagues." The churchianity of Protestantism is but a transplanting of the spirit of Babylon to new ground, and brings into bondage all those who will associate with these sects and parties; and all who would be in full accord with the Lord and have his fullest blessing must be faithful to his message and stand firm and loyal to him at any cost. To such and such alone the message of the Lord is now going forth, proving a glorious blessing and uplift, bringing them nearer to the Lord and into closer fellowship with those who are truly his and most completely under the blessings and provisions which he has made for his faithful.
|VOL. XXVI.||NOVEMBER 15, 1905.||No. 22|
|Views from the Watch Tower||339|
|A Bishop's Gloomy Survey||339|
|Socialists in Germany Very Bold||340|
|The Glasgow Convention||341|
|In the Garden of the Lord (Poem)||342|
|Effectual Fervent Prayer||342|
|Answers Long Delayed||343|
|"Beloved for the Fathers' Sake"||344|
|Praying to the Point||345|
|Abstinence for the Good of Others||346|
|The Law Governing Saints||347|
|Parallel Questions Today||348|
|Paul's Personal Example||349|
|Concerning One-Day Conventions||350|
|Interesting Questions Answered||350|
Those of the interested who, by reason of old age, or other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for the TOWER, will be supplied FREE, if they send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list continually.
"Blessed are ye when they shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven."
Frequently we read of DAWN readers, and believers, too, who do not subscribe for the WATCH TOWER – especially when we urge them to let us have their names on our list – either for the price or on credit, or free if they cannot afford to pay. Experience shows that the regular visits of the TOWER would prove a blessing to them; and we urge all who regard the matter thus to come to the supper which the Lord thus provides.
But we are still more astonished to learn occasionally that some on the WATCH TOWER lists have never read the six volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN. They can never rightly appreciate a single article in the TOWER until they have studied the orderly presentation of the Divine plan set forth in the DAWNS. Any who desire to read the DAWNS, but feel that they cannot afford to purchase them even at the cost price, are welcome to have them free, one copy at a time, upon promise to read them. The entire set of six volumes costs little more than is ordinarily charged for one volume of any religious work – even the most unscriptural and nonsensical, such as "Science and Health."
One Colporteur has made the experiment of going over territory already worked for DAWNS with the Heavenly Manna. He was quite successful. One customer bought a leather-bound copy ($1.00) for personal use, and three in cloth binding (35c each) for birthday gifts. The suggestion is an excellent one. The very best Christian people desire something of the kind – a Scripture and a comment for every day in the year for consideration at the breakfast-table and for comfort and help for every day. Do you know of a better or a more useful Christmas token for anyone? Wholesale rates to TOWER subscribers, cloth, 20c; leather, 60c – postpaid.
These are now in stock in large quantity. Every letter you send through the mail may be a more or less potent messenger of the Truth, even on its outside, by the use of these envelopes. They catch the attention not only of those to whom they are addressed, but postmen and others have an opportunity, and sometimes the curiosity, to read their message of peace – the gospel in condensed form. Price, 25c per 100, postpaid.
We are always pleased to send to those who promise to carefully circulate them, not only TOWERS and tracts in the English, but also in the German, French, Swedish, Danish and Italian languages. In ordering please specify your opportunities for using these and the quantities you desire.
As we have in preparation an edition of our Hymn Book with the music score, we have allowed the old edition to run out. We will not reprint it unless a demand should be found. All orders for the "P. & H. of D." are being held over to be filled out of the new edition, which we hope to have early in the new year.
NO. 15. REPLY TO INGERSOLL.
NO. 37. HOW READEST THOU?
NO. 38. HOPE OF IMMORTALITY.
NO. 40. WHAT IS THE SOUL?
NO. 41. MUST WE ABANDON HOPE OF A GOLDEN AGE?
NO. 44. GATHERING THE LORD'S JEWELS.
NO. 49. WHICH IS THE TRUE GOSPEL?
NO. 52. OUR LORD'S RETURN.
NO. 53. THE WAGES OF SIN.
NO. 54. A DARK CLOUD AND ITS SILVER LINING.
NO. 57. CALAMITIES – WHY GOD PERMITS THEM.
NO. 58. PURGATORY.
NO. 59. THE WORLD'S HOPE.
NO. 60. BRINGING BACK THE KING.
NO. 61. PROTESTANTS, AWAKE!
NO. 62. WHY EVIL WAS PERMITTED.
NO. 63. CHRIST'S DEATH: ONE OPPORTUNITY FOR EVERY MAN.
NO. 64. CRITICISMS OF MILLENNIAL HOPES AND PROSPECTS EXAMINED.
NO. 66. DO YOU KNOW?
NO. 68. INCREASING INFLUENCE OF SPIRITISM.
NO. 69. STUDY TO BE APPROVED. CHRISTENDOM IN GRAVE DANGER. REFRAIN FROM WEEPING. HOPE FOR THE NON-ELECT.
NO. 70. CHEERFUL CHRISTIANS. DIVINE PREDESTINATION.
Nos. 40, 53, 60 and 66 can be had in Swedish.
Nos. 53, 54 and 66 can be had in Dano-Norwegian.
Nos. 38, 40, 49, 53, 59, 60, 61, 62 and 66 can be had in German.
Nos. 59 and 66 can be had in French.
No. 66 can be had in Hollandish and Greek.
"THE growth of divorces and suicides, the trying controversy with regard to the education question, and many other things, had made many people anxious as to the future of the country, not to speak of the Church."
This pessimistic utterance was made at a conference of clergy and church workers at Blandford by the Bishop of Salisbury, who added that there had been revealed to them the terrible fact that a great many were giving up public worship, and that a large proportion of the people of England paid little attention to religion at all.
The press states that when at the last convention of the "Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor" at Baltimore, the reports were read, showing the great growth of the Society in recent years, a delegate caused consternation by inquiring, Why every form of evil seems to be growing proportionately more rapidly. The same question would apply to nearly all the reports of Babylon's expansion and federations.
The trouble seems to be that it is not the right kind of religion that is being promulgated and "compassing sea and land." The fear of a hell of torment has for so long been the basis of all religious effort that now, when sensible people can no longer swallow it, and when it is no longer preached in intelligent communities, there is little left as a basis for Christian life.
The public in general are ignorant of the faith and hopes set forth by the Bible; they are but "babes," and the majority not even regenerated at all. When they discard [R3661 : page 339] hell torments it often means a repudiation of everything taught in the Bible which they have been misled into believing is the authority for hell, purgatory and all such errors.
The thing necessary, and at once, is to show that the eternal-torment theory, as well as purgatory, the Mass, etc., are perversions of the Bible's teachings, invented during the dark ages, by the very people who invented all the atrocious and diabolical tortures and persecutions of that time.
And next the people need to know what is meant by the Kingdom of Heaven everywhere referred to in the Scriptures. They need to know of the present selection of the kings and priests for that Kingdom; and that it is to be set up in power and great glory at Christ's second advent; and that its mission will be the conversion of the world under the guide of its super-human rulers and instructors; – that thus in God's "due time" a knowledge of divine goodness and mercy in Christ may reach "every creature" and be made available to all.
"Over 700 people assembled at the East Liberty Presbyterian Church yesterday morning listening to an interesting sermon delivered by Rev. Dr. Ford C. Ottman of Stamford, Conn. He took for his text Matt. 24:14, 'And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.' He spoke in part as follows:
"'It has been 1900 years since Jesus spoke these words still millions of people are living in heathenism and are liable to stay there if the present rate of progress is taken into account. If the gospel now proclaimed by Evangelical preachers is the same as the gospel of the kingdom to which Jesus refers, then it will be impossible to say anything definite about the coming of the end. It can be shown, however, that the text has a precise application that differentiates it altogether from the message committed to the Apostle Paul.
"'Christ is the Messiah, according to the official title. Isaiah said: "Unto us a child is born," and he did not mean any Gentile outside, but he meant a Jew. The [R3661 : page 340] promise given in Isaiah, that Jesus will occupy the throne of David, will never be kept, and the gospel of John the Baptist, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," is out of date. All I can preach to you is the salvation of Christ and not the Old Testament teachings. The gospel of the Kingdom is not the salvation that ought to be taught today.'"
Poor man! He hesitates to rail at the Savior directly, and therefore, after quoting Jesus' words, he denounced them as misleading teachings of John the Baptist, and apparently his 700 auditors assented and considered this an "interesting" gospel sermon. How blind and deaf to the true gospel of the Kingdom!
The speaker evidently saw that the gospel of the Kingdom was what had for centuries been the "hope of Israel." He infers that it failed with fleshly Israel and has since failed with spiritual Israel. He lacks the "key" of the divine plan, viz., that God is now selecting or electing the Kingdom class – the "overcomers" who shall inherit all things and sit in the throne of their Lord. And that as soon as the elect shall be all complete – having made their calling and election sure through obedience in sacrifice – then "changed," glorified with Christ, they with him shall live and reign the thousand years foretold; – binding Satan, subduing all things contrary to God and his law, and blessing and uplifting the willingly obedient of mankind – unto life everlasting as men.
We reply: According to the divine program the Kingdom was first offered to the natural seed of Abraham, so that had there been enough of that people "Israelites indeed" – enough to have filled the foreordained number – the invitation to joint-heirship would never have come to us Gentiles. Then there would have been no Gospel age – the Millennial Kingdom would have been established directly, as it is about to be established now because the full number of the elect is almost completed.
When Germany granted universal suffrage to her people she sought to safeguard her established laws and usages by granting extra votes to officials, property holders, etc. Yet with all this precaution against Socialism the latter has been steadily growing. The government sees this, and anticipating that at the elections of next year the Socialists may be able to control their Congress, the "Reichstag," proposes some restriction of the present voting privileges of the masses (or their total abolition) to prevent a Socialist control.
The tone of the German Socialists for the past three years has been growing more and more mild as, under the guidance of Herr Bebel and others, they have hoped to gain their ends by peaceable means – through the ballot. Now, however, the bare suggestion of a loss of the ballot power arouses them to anger as they perceive that it would mean the extinguishment of their hopes. They are now planning for a universal strike, to be called in the event of any attempt being made to deprive them of their share in the government. This is the key to the telegram which we reprint below from the columns of the Detroit News.
It is not difficult to see that this means serious trouble. The Emperor and nobility of Germany, imbued from infancy with the thought that they are God's elect favorites, and that even criticism of their doings is rebellion against God, will not turn over Germany to Socialism without a bitter struggle which must in the end spell Anarchy.
This illustrates what we mean when we say that Socialism is impossible in this land. We do not claim that it has no good and just proposals (as well as some bad and unjust ones). What we do emphasize is that Socialists totally delude themselves in thinking that their full program could ever be carried into general effect. They seem to think that the wealthy would permit them to vote Socialism into effect, and that all they need do is to get the public to vote their way and then legislate the rich out of their "vested rights." Not so. Watch Germany, and note that the wealthy and influential would resist to the point of anarchy.
The thought we continually seek to enforce is that the great Millennial Kingdom is nigh, at our door, and that it is the world's only hope; that the Bible points out that the world in its selfishness is about to wreck present institutions in anarchy within the next ten years. And that God's people should hold aloof from both sides of the struggle, and seek peace and righteousness, and love and pursue these while looking with the undimmed eye of faith to the glorious blessings of Christ's Kingdom, which will be established without their swords or guns by our Immanuel.
"JENA, Duchy of Saxe-Weimar. – Herr Bebel, leader of the Socialist party in the reichstag, had one of his great days in the convention of the national social democratic party today, and again showed his mastery over the members of the party. The day was devoted to a hot debate over the lengthy resolutions proposed by Herr Bebel in favor of a general strike of the working classes for political effect under given circumstances.
"Herr Bebel said he saw impending danger in the abolition of universal suffrage in the case of the election of members of the reichstag, and the aim of his resolutions was to meet such a situation with a strike en masse. He spoke during the entire forenoon, beginning at nine o'clock and holding the delegates and a great attendance of spectators spellbound until a recess was taken for lunch, receiving an enthusiastic demonstration at the close of his address. The sentiment in the address that called for the greatest enthusiasm was: 'We would deserve to be devoured of dogs if we were unwilling to endure hunger for several weeks in behalf of human rights.' [R3661 : page 341]
"The discussion at the afternoon session brought out sharp opposition to Herr Bebel's resolutions from leaders of the labor unions and from several important socialist members of the reichstag, who regretted what they called 'a relapse into revolutionism,' as it was calculated to strengthen that element in German politics which advocated ruthless methods in dealing with the laboring classes.
"Herr Rosa of Luxemburg, who is famous in the party for his vitriolic eloquence, made the speech of the afternoon. He said it would be a shame if the social democracy should have any anxiety about 'disenthralling the proletarian masses in the glorious year of the Russian revolution.'
"Herr Bebel, in summing up the debate, said he had attended every socialist convention that had been held, but never had he heard such a threatening tone as that used during the present convention. The speeches, he said, were ghastly with talk of blood and revolution.
There seemed to be a general expectation that this Convention would, in one respect, at least, be like all its predecessors. So far each Convention has been better than those before it, and the one just past has conformed to the rule. Former occasions have been sweet and precious as we have met to talk over the good things the Lord is providing, but as we approach the end of the journey, with a wider experience of the love of God, and a clearer understanding of the great call with which we are favored, the joy deepens and the fellowship becomes more and more a foretaste of the good to come. It is only a few short years since the first of this series of meetings was held in Glasgow: then there was a small company in a small room. The Truth was hardly known in the city, but the few upon whom it had laid hold, whose hearts were touched, worked hard in the use of their opportunities, and some of the results were apparent as the Glasgow brethren made their visitors welcome. The number of those needing sleeping accommodation was about 180, and of these 140 or more were placed with the home brethren. The average attendance at the meetings would be about 400 while the largest meeting was said to about double that number.
The chief topics of the talks that were given by the brethren who addressed the meetings may be said to be the "Kingdom of Heaven." Much was said about its constitution, the time of establishment, our present responsibility towards its interests, and, last but not least, how we must prepare ourselves for a place in the Kingdom. One brother urged that as the Kingdom is to be given to the "saints," only those who charge themselves with its present interests will be proved worthy of a place in it. To each comes responsibility, and all can do something. Our Master did not say, "Stir yourselves for great work in the time of harvest." Instead he left us the responsibility of the harvest work by saying, "Pray ye the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the vineyard." If all may not enter upon active work at least all can pray, and thus prove the interest is there.
The brethren appreciated having Brother McPhail at the Convention, and all appreciated your kind thought in prolonging his stay for it. The friends had learned to love him, and to esteem his ministry, and were glad to have the opportunity of seeing and hearing him again before his departure for the States. The loving harmony of the meetings and the peaceful and happy looks of the brethren made a great impression upon some who attended. We hope they will seek and find the same peace in the one Lord. We heard of many weak ones who were confirmed in "this way," and we know of one dear brother who came with troubled heart, and lost his troubles in consecration to the Lord. May he ever find the rest of the people of God.
On Sunday there were thirty-three brothers and sisters immersed, in this manner showing their consecration. One was an elderly brother who for a time refused to listen, but who now rejoices in the Truth. Another was a dear lad of 16 years, one of three brothers who attend the Glasgow meeting. We trust for these, as we do for all, that the Lord's grace may comfort and strengthen them all the way, whether longer or shorter. The elder brother just spoken of told us of an unusual experience. He was at the railway station in a pondering mood, for he wanted some DAWNS and had come to the end of his immediate resources. Standing wondering whether or not he should ask a sister for some books on credit, he was accosted by a man with whom he had a slight acquaintance but with whom he had not spoken for ten months or more. "How are you for money just now?" said the friend. "Well, I'm not exactly 'flush,'" was the reply. Without further words £5 was placed in the brother's hands with the remark that nothing was wished back, and the friend immediately boarded an outgoing train. The brother at once went away to get the books he wanted for his friends, paid for them and left some change for the Tract Fund.
Many of the friends went away on the Monday night, but before the Convention proper was closed a message of love was sent to yourself. It is probable that you will get this from one of the local brethren, but in any case the message will not spoil by being sent twice. The message is Philemon 6,7, and Hebrews 13:20,21, and it was with heartfelt love that the brethren testified to this. Some stayed until Tuesday night, when the final meeting was held, and at which a good number were present. Many who had come long distances went away by the late night trains. A good number went to the stations to see them [R3662 : page 342] away, and it was good to see the laughing joy, even though there were wet eyes. On the Tuesday morning about forty brethren said a final good-bye to Brother McPhail, and wished him "God-speed," and also a quick return, if that should be the Lord's will. But we all want to see you again, dear brother. Come soon!
With much love in the Lord, I am, as ever, your brother in Him,
Though possessed of wealth and enjoying the king's favor, and in every way advantaged so far as this world's affairs were concerned, Nehemiah's heart was not surfeited with his earthly blessings and privileges, comforts and advantages. His brother had been amongst those who went up to Jerusalem with Ezra, as narrated in our last lesson. That expedition had been partially successful and partly a failure. Ezra had heroically drawn the line of demarcation between Jews and others. The walls of the city had been repaired in a fashion, but their enemies had been angered by what they no doubt considered the arrogancy of the Jews in considering themselves separate and distinct from other peoples, refusing to intermarry with them. The sending back to their homes of all foreign wives under Ezra's direction capped the climax of what they considered to be injury done to them. These enemies had spitefully attacked the city, broken its walls and burned its gates, and the people of Jerusalem, comparatively few in number, weary and exhausted, had not the energy to rebuild and repair. Moreover, they feared to do so lest their enemies would deal harshly with them.
It was through his brother, who returned, that Nehemiah gained information respecting the deplorable condition of affairs at Jerusalem. The news made him heartsick, for he not only had the usual patriotism, but, as a Jew and as a believer in the divine threatenings and promises, he had an intensity of love for the land of promise, a burning desire to lend his assistance in every manner for the recovery of the Lord's people and their re-establishment in power as the Lord had promised.
Our lesson relates chiefly to Nehemiah's prayer to the Lord after he had heard of the conditions in Judea – his prayer for the Lord's blessing and assistance, to the intent that the good promises of the Lord respecting his holy city and land might be fulfilled. Nehemiah does not give us the words of all his prayers, for we learn from other parts of the narrative that he prayed after this manner for four months before he began to have an answer. What we read, therefore, is supposed to be [R3662 : page 343] a general outline of the sentiments which he expressed in various forms at different times, praying without ceasing during those four months. Of course during all this time he attended to his duties, but this prayer was always in his heart, the sentiment of his mind, and more or less associated with all his thoughts and plans and arrangements.
So it should be with all of the Lord's people of spiritual Israel. The things which we have only a slight desire for we may mention once or twice at the throne of grace, but those things which lie very close to our hearts become our continual prayer, associating in our minds with all of life's duties and interests, the heart gravitating continually toward the thing we have desired of the Lord, and on suitable opportunities repeating to him the request – making sure that the thing we request is in accord with his promises. This is the kind of praying which the Lord commended saying, "Men ought always to pray and not to faint" – that the Lord's people ought to continue asking for the right things with some degree of persistency, and should not grow weary, hopeless, faithless, faint in their hearts. [R3663 : page 343]
Doubtless there are many reasons why the Lord does not promptly grant such of our requests as are in accordance with his will, in harmony with his Word. We may not know all of these reasons, but some of them are apparent. Undoubtedly one reason for the Lord's delay in answering us often is to test the strength and depths of our desires for the good things that we request of him. For instance, he informs us that he is more willing to give his holy Spirit to us who ask than are earthly parents to give good things to their children: yet the giving of his holy Spirit is a gradual process, and we are enabled to receive it only in proportion as we are emptied of the worldly or selfish spirit. It requires time to thus become emptied of self and prepared for the mind of Christ – in some it requires longer for this than in others, but all need emptying in order to receive the refilling. He that seeketh findeth, but the more he seeketh the more he findeth; to him that knocketh it shall be opened, but his continual knocking and his increasing interest in the knocking means his increasing desire to enter, so that as the door of privilege, of opportunity, swings slowly open before him his courage and strength increase as he seeks to avail himself of the opening, and thus everyway the blessing is greater than if the Lord were to answer the petitions more hastily.
Whenever we think of prayer and answers thereto we should remember our Lord's words, "If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye may ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you." (John 15:7.) Ah, there are conditions in this statement. Those who abide in Christ must have gotten into him by faith, repentance and consecration, and to abide in him means that the faith will abide, the repentance for sin and opposition to it will abide, and the consecration to the Lord and his service will abide and be manifest.
The other condition also is a weighty one: "if my Word abide in you." Ah, how evident it is that the Lord meant to associate himself and his Word, the Scriptures, in the minds, in the hearts, in the lives, in the prayers of all who are truly his. We must search the Scriptures to know the will of the Lord, to know what he has promised and what he has not promised, to know what we may ask and what we may not ask for, and ascertaining these, the fully consecrated one will not want to be, to have or to do anything except that which will be pleasing to the Lord in respect to him – "Thy will, not mine be done, O Lord," is his prayer. And when this position has been reached we can readily see that whatever would be asked by one thus well informed respecting the divine promises and fully submissive to the divine will, would be things which God would be well pleased to grant in answer to his requests.
We are to think of our heavenly Father as rich and benevolent, kind and generous, yet wise as well as loving. We are to suppose that he will have pleasure in giving us the desires of our hearts if those desires are in harmony with his plan, which plan he has already framed on such lines as to include our very highest and best interests and the highest and best interests of all his creatures. So, then,
And his well-informed children can have all the desires of their hearts because their hearts are in full accord with the Lord, and they desire nothing of the Lord except the good things of his purpose and promise.
The substance of the prayers of Nehemiah is stated: "I beseech thee, O Jehovah, God of heaven, the great and terrible God that keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments." Thus praying, he had before his mind the testimonies of God's Word respecting his dealings with Moses and the prophets and the kings of the past. He did not reproach the Lord as having failed with his part of the covenant, but, quite to the contrary, acknowledged that the Lord's ways and dealings with Israel had been just and true, and that the difficulties in which they were involved as a nation were the just penalties due them for their violations of the covenant made at Sinai. He expressed confidence also that the Lord would keep his covenant and have mercy upon the people, or upon those at least who would seek to walk in his paths.
He entreated, "Let thine ear now be attentive and thine eyes open that thou mayst hearken unto the prayer of thy servant which I pray before thee now day and night for the children of Israel, thy servants, while I confess the sins of the children of Israel, thy servants, which we have sinned against thee; both I and my father's house have sinned." No proper prayer can be offered to the great Creator that does not acknowledge in some manner the weaknesses, deficiency, imperfection, sin of those who approach the throne of grace. As the Apostle declares, even we who are new creatures in Christ approach the throne of heavenly grace to find [R3663 : page 344] mercy and grace to help in every time of need. But our boldness, our courage, is not that of self-confidence, but of confidence in him who loved us and who bought us with his precious blood – in him who died for our sins and under whose covering robe we have peace, forgiveness, harmony with God.
O, how much this means to us! More than it could have meant to Nehemiah or others living before the great atonement sacrifice had been made. It is our privilege to see how God can be just and yet be the justifier of him who believes on Jesus. We see that by the grace of God, Jesus Christ has tasted death for every man, and that ultimately the merit of his sacrifice will be made applicable to every man through the Lord's own channels and agents.
Nehemiah was very open in his confession, and we believe that such an attitude is the proper one for all who would approach the Lord. Sins and weaknesses should be confessed to the Lord, however they may be reasonably screened from the eyes of others while we are seeking to do our best in walking not after the flesh but after the Spirit. He says, "We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, neither the statutes, nor the judgments which thou hast commanded thy servant Moses. Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress I will scatter you abroad among the nations: but if you turn unto me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts were in the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence and will bring them into this place that I have chosen to set my name there. Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand."
This prayer, mentioning the Lord's threatenings and acknowledging the justice of them, and acknowledging also the transgressions and the infliction of the penalties, and this turning to the Lord's promises for forgiveness and mercy and reconciliation, exhibit the very proprieties of prayer which all should imitate – Jew or Gentile. The "Israelite indeed" who transgresses the divine precepts and is chastened of the Lord can plead the Lord's promise to be very merciful to those who are of a contrite heart, and ask forgiveness based upon the great redemption sacrifice, and may by faith accept the divine promise immediately and enter into rest of soul so soon as he shall have done all in his power to rectify the wrong bemoaned.
The Lord did respond to Nehemiah's prayer by granting him the opportunity for being associated in the rebuilding of the city and the placing of it upon a more satisfactory and permanent foundation, but it was not God's time for fulfilling all the gracious promises that he had made to that nation. It was not for Nehemiah to know the mysteries of the divine plan as they entwined in all the affairs of the Jewish nation and held them together as a separated people for several hundred years, until Messiah was sent unto them to gather to himself the Israelites indeed in whom there was no guile, and to reject, to blind, to give over to be scattered amongst the nations the remainder of the Jewish people. Because it was not time to reveal the divine plan in all its details, therefore the Lord in hearing Nehemiah's prayer merely granted him the privileges and blessings and opportunities possible for him at the time, leaving the larger fulfilments of that prayer and all the prayers for Israel to the glorious consummation when the glorified Christ, the antitype of Moses, shall stand forth to gather into one all nations under his own headship.
The Apostle Paul had in mind the still greater scattering of Israel amongst all nations of the world, accomplished at the beginning of this Gospel age by the utter destruction of Jerusalem, from which it has not yet recovered. To the Apostle it was given to understand and appreciate the matter, and to explain to us who are of the spiritual Israel that he who scattered Israel was the Lord, who also would regather that people in his own due time. The Apostle points out to us most explicitly that all the history of this nation was known to the Lord, including the scattering in fulfilment of our Lord's Word, "Your house is left unto you desolate." It was in view of this greater scattering that the Apostle, full of faith in the promises of the Lord's Word, speaking under inspiration, assures us that "the gifts and callings of God are not matters of repentance" – that God never gave nor promised things ill-advisedly, that he knew the end from the beginning, and that ultimately every promise would be graciously fulfilled. He explains to us that the casting off of natural Israel was the appropriate thing during the period that God was gathering spiritual Israel to be the Bride, the Lamb's wife, joint-heirs with Christ. He assures us that as soon as the Church has all been selected, tested, proven, glorified, then divine favor will return to natural Israel, and he [R3664 : page 344] says, "They shall obtain mercy through your mercy" – fleshly Israel shall obtain mercy through the glorified spiritual Israel.
What a wonderful plan! All for which Nehemiah prayed will be much more than fulfilled, not because the heavenly Father has changed his plan to suit the prayer, but because in his prayer Nehemiah asked in accordance with the Lord's plan, yet did not ask as much as God has purposed to accomplish. The finite mind cannot grasp the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the divine provision. Consequently the Lord is about to do for natural Israel exceedingly and abundantly more than we or Nehemiah could have asked or could have thought. He is about to gather them out of every nation, people, kindred and tongue, and to reestablish their judges and law-givers as at the first, only that these judges and law-givers of the future will be perfect, and, more than this, under the direct instruction and guidance of the then glorified Christ – Head and body.
Doubtless it was because it would have been beyond the comprehension of the Jews that the Lord did not [R3664 : page 345] make very plain in all his prophecies that the blessings proposed for fleshly Israel were the same blessings which later would be bestowed upon all nations, peoples, kindreds and tongues. As he veiled the fact that there would be a spiritual Israel as well as a natural Israel, so he veiled in the promises the fact that in the future all the nations, peoples and tongues will have an opportunity of becoming Israelites indeed, children of Abraham. These gracious promises are indeed clear when we attain a proper viewpoint in respect to the divine Word, though hidden from any other standpoint. For instance we now see the meaning of the Lord's word, "I have constituted thee a father of many nations," (Gen. 17:4); and again the promise, "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:3); and again the Apostle's assurance that as the rejection of natural Israel meant the acceptance of spiritual Israel to the higher and chief elements of the promise, so the regathering of spiritual Israel would mean life from the dead to all humanity. – Rom. 11.
Nehemiah's prayers were to a point, namely, that he might have a special blessing from the Lord upon himself and upon the mission which he believed the Lord would be willing to put into his hand through the authority and cooperation of the king Artaxerxes. His prayer was, "O Lord, I beseech thee let now thine ear be attentive to thy servant and to the prayer of thy servants [all true Israelites], who delight to fear thy name: And prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day and grant him mercy in the sight of this man." As we have already seen, the monarchs of those days were absolute in authority, and their ill will might very easily be aroused by any plans and arrangements or suggestions which might strike them as inimical to their own hopes, aims, ambitions and prospects. Nehemiah might well doubt that the king would take favorably to the suggestion that he be permitted to go to Jerusalem to endeavor to establish law and order there and to help along his own kindred. The king might very properly view this as disloyalty. If he were a loyal servant and appreciated his position in the king's confidence and his home in the capital city, why should he wish to leave these and go elsewhere to reestablish a nation and capital which had once been competitors in the race for world power. The king in his anger might order his execution, or cast a javelin at him.
Nehemiah's prayer to the Lord that he might grant him mercy in the sight of Artaxerxes shows that he had faith in the divine power. We have often wondered if a deficiency of faith along such lines is not a part of much of the trouble of the Lord's truly consecrated people to-day – of spiritual Israel. We know that sometimes they have severe trials from those who hate them, from those who perhaps despise them and deal unjustly with them, and we wonder to what extent they remember, as Nehemiah did, that God has full power to open ways and means before us whereby we may engage in his service, if he be willing to accept of our services, if we find favor in his sight, if our prayers of lips and of heart go up before him as a memorial, acceptable through Christ.
We remember in this connection a story told us by a sister at one of the Conventions. She said: "My husband is quite wealthy, has a large farm, well stocked, etc., and, although I have served faithfully for years, he is so opposed to the Truth and so seeks to hinder me in respect to it that he begrudges me even the small sum of the WATCH TOWER subscription or the price of books I need. When I heard of this Convention I felt a longing in my heart to go and meet with some of the Lord's dear people, and I took the matter to the Lord in prayer, telling him that if it were his pleasure I should greatly enjoy the privilege of attending the Convention, but I was willing to leave the matter entirely with him. I felt somehow that it would be quite probable that the Lord would open the way for me to go, and by way of cooperation I suggested the matter to my husband in good time, saying that I would like very much to attend the Convention. He was violently opposed, and said that the distance to the railroad station was so great that I could not walk it, and that he would not allow me to use a horse. I replied quite calmly that I did not know, but somehow I felt that the Lord would be willing to have me go and would perhaps open the way yet for me. I answered quietly, because I had committed the matter entirely to the Lord, and was willing to abide by whatever his providence might mete out to me. I was even cheerful, therefore, notwithstanding my husband's words of opposition. He seemed to read my confident expectation and several times referred to the matter, reiterating that I should not go, that he would not allow me to take a horse, etc. I merely replied that I did not know, but that if it were the Lord's will that I should go, he would be able to open the way. About ten days before the Convention one of my husband's best horses took sick, and although he is very successful in doctoring his stock, and on this occasion called in a veterinary surgeon, the horse died. Then another good horse took sick and it died, and a third horse took sick. My husband began to realize that it might be the hand of the Lord in his affairs, and evidently associated his losses with his declaration that I might not use a horse to go to the Convention. He brought up the subject of the Convention himself, intimating in a very mild way a possibility of rescinding his previous decision. My quiet answer was the same, that perhaps the Lord would open the way. The third horse died, and my husband came to me and said, 'You may go to the Convention.'"
In relating these circumstances we do not wish to give the intimation that the Lord would thus deal in every such case. We must remember that a part of our lesson as the Lord's followers is that we must learn to walk in the footsteps of Jesus trustfully – by faith and not by sight; that we must learn patient endurance, and [R3664 : page 346] thus develop more and more all the fruits and graces of the spirit of love. Our object in referring to this case is that all of the Lord's people may have the suggestions which it offers, in harmony with those of Nehemiah's prayer, namely, that God is able to shape all our earthly affairs for us, and that a part of our lesson is to learn to trust him. He will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, but with the temptation will also provide a way of escape. He does indeed permit us to be tried as gold in the furnace, yet as gold is not permitted to be consumed in the furnace, so the Lord will not permit us to receive injury under any conditions so long as we are trusting in him. All things must work together for good to them that love God, to the called ones according to his purpose.
As Nehemiah's prayer was delayed of an answer four months, and no door of opportunity seemed to offer for him to bring the matter to the king's attention, so with us – patient endurance and faith may be amongst the lessons which the Lord wishes us to learn by the delay in the answers to our petitions. Likewise, doubtless, that four months of delay was used by the Lord in more or less a preparation of the king for cooperating with the request of Nehemiah. And so with us it may be that, while we are praying, the Lord is not only preparing us for the blessing and opportunity and privilege we desire, but also preparing the circumstances and conditions which will bring us these opportunities and privileges in the best form. Let us, then, lay to heart and utilize the lessons of our Master's words, "Men ought always to pray and not to faint." – Luke 18:1.
"The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much," says our Golden Text. The prayers of the unrighteous, we understand, will avail nothing; and in this connection we are to remember that "there is none righteous, no, not one," and that all the righteousness which we have or which permits us to present ourselves before the Father, or which guarantees us that we shall be heard of him, is the righteousness of Christ imputed to us – the merit of his sacrifice covers all our blemishes. Let us remember, too, that it is the fervent prayer that is the effectual one – the prayer that is earnest, from the heart and not merely from the lips. It is for this reason that self-denial, fasting and praying should be associated in the minds, and in fact we should be so earnest, so fervently desire the things that we request, and be so confident that they are the Lord's will, as guaranteed by the promises of his Word, that we would [R3665 : page 346] hold on and wait for the mercies the Lord thus prepares us to receive.
It would be rather unsafe, we think, for any of the "new creation" to make request for temporal blessings. "After all those things do the Gentiles seek." (Matt. 6:32.) They seek those things because they know not of and appreciate not the higher and better, the spiritual things. Spiritual Israelites are exhorted by the Lord to appreciate the spiritual clothing, the spiritual food, the heavenly riches, which moth and rust cannot corrupt, and to seek for these.
The Master tells us what we may freely ask, what we may be assured that the heavenly Father will be very willing to grant to us, though he bear long with us, though he give it gradually to us, and not perhaps as rapidly and as fully as we request it. His words are: "If ye, then, know how to give good gifts [earthly gifts] unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy Spirit to them that ask him." (Luke 11:13.) The holy Spirit is the spirit of love – to God and to man. It cannot be given to us under present conditions except gradually, as the old selfish, wrong spirit is deposed from our hearts. This, therefore, must be continually our prayer to the end of life's journey, that we might be filled with the Spirit of the Lord, and thus praying means that we will be thus laboring day by day, and that the Lord will continually bless us, giving us the fruits of his Spirit in our hearts and in our lives more and more, its joy and peace and blessing.
Were there no more important work for the saints to do undoubtedly it would be the will of the Lord that we should engage our talents largely in combating this terrible drink evil. But while seeing still more important work for the Lord's ambassadors to engage in, it is eminently proper that we should let it be known on suitable occasions that our sympathies are with those who are fighting in a legitimate manner this hideous monster, and that our non-participation is not from lack [R3665 : page 347] of sympathy with the cause, but because, from our standpoint of view, there is a still greater, still grander and still more important work to be done in the proclamation of the good tidings of reconciliation to those who have an ear to hear our message now and ultimately to all the families of the earth. We trust that every one who has by the grace of God learned of Present Truth, and whose conceptions of divine mercy have been enlarged through a grander view of the divine plan, feels an increasing opposition to everything and every influence working in the world contrary to righteousness, purity, truth, and tending to further degrade our sadly fallen race. The clearer our view of the divine plan the more intense should be our feeling of opposition to everything sinful and contrary to that plan. The more we appreciate our God and are consecrated to his cause, the more we must be opposed to the adversary of souls and opposed to everything which is injurious to our fellows.
We are glad that those entrusted with the arrangement of these International Bible Lessons have chosen an apostolic exhortation which is applicable to temperance in every proper sense of the word. It is applicable not only to food and drink and clothing, but to every interest and affair of life; even as the Lord's people, consecrated to do his will, are exhorted that whether they eat or drink or whatever they do all should be done to the glory of the Lord. We have the declaration that no drunkard shall inherit the Kingdom of heaven, and we assume that intemperance on other lines would equally prove in the Lord's sight a lack of proper character on our part that would bar us from a share in the Kingdom, and that therefore with equal propriety we might say, No glutton shall enter the Kingdom of heaven. Neither those who devote their lives to fashion and folly, dress and frivolity.
The Lord is seeking for the Kingdom class persons of character, and has arranged that those who hear his message of grace in the present time and are accepted of him through consecration shall sacrifice their own wills, the will of the flesh, to do the Lord's will, and therefore to no longer surrender themselves to gluttony or drunkenness or fashionable folly. The Lord is seeking those who surrender themselves to him to be taught in [R3666 : page 347] the school of Christ, to there learn the lessons of self-control, self-denial, patience, humility, meekness, and come to a proper appreciation of the various graces of the holy Spirit, and so far as possible to live in harmony with their noble conceptions and desires. These are the ones whom the Lord is seeking for the Kingdom, and we may feel sure that he will accept no others. He will find a sufficient number of this kind to complete his predestination, and it is for us, if we have heard his voice and been accepted of him, to strive daily to be dead to the world and to all fleshly desires that we may thus make our calling and election sure.
The Apostle says that all things are lawful for him but all things are not expedient. There is a limited and unlimited way of using language. Evidently the Apostle has no thought of using this expression, "all things," unlimitedly. It would not have been lawful for him to murder or steal or do other things which he recognized to be contrary to the divine will. He is discussing the proper liberties of Christians. Their one law is supreme love for God and consequently a love for all mankind. This comprehensive law is binding upon them – it is the law of their being, to disregard which would mean the loss of the holy Spirit and, persevered in, would mean the second death. The Lord's children are not governed by "thou shalt" and "thou shalt not," in respect to all the little affairs of life. It is left to them to apply the principles of this law of love to life's general affairs, including its trivialities. The Jews were under laws respecting various little details, and the Gentiles, the heathen, had their customs, usages, laws. The Christian stands free from all those, bound only by the one law of love. He may do anything that would not conflict with that law, but many things that would not so conflict might be inexpedient, inadvisable, because of the mental and moral condition of those about him who might misunderstand his course.
In this lesson the Apostle is explaining a difficulty which perhaps more than any other trivial question was troublesome to the early Church. The Apostles at the Council in Jerusalem, answering the inquiry of the Church at Antioch, had declared that the Jewish law did not affect the Gentiles who had accepted Christ. Nevertheless they urged upon them amongst other things that they abstain from meats offered to idols. (Acts 21:25). This proved to be a very difficult matter with them because of the customs of that day. In Corinth, for instance, nearly all the meats sold in the butchers' stalls ("shambles") was meat which had been offered to idols. The people, not knowing the true God in exercising their faculty of veneration had come to suppose that all meats should be first offered to the heathen idols, in order that the partaking of them might have a blessing and be to their health. Meat of any other kind was scarce. The Apostle explains in our lesson that if Christians were invited to a feast by some of their unbelieving neighbors or friends or relatives, as for instance a marriage supper, they would in all probability sit down to meat which had been offered to an idol. They were in perplexity in respect to the matter what they should do: the Apostle was endeavoring to make plain to them the path of duty.
He sets forth, first of all, the basic rule that we who are Christians, we who are truly consecrated to the Lord, have given up our own wills and preferences in every matter with a view to honoring the Lord and doing all the good we can in the world in his name. He urges therefore, "Let no man seek his own but every man another's welfare." (v. 24.) The Apostle here would seem to mean that we are to be entirely regardless in respect to our own welfare that we may accomplish all the good possible for others; yet we believe that we would [R3666 : page 348] not be doing violence to the general tenor of the Scriptures to suppose the Apostle means that we are not to seek our own welfare merely, but are to keep in view also the welfare, the interests of others, so that where these would conflict we would be ready to make any reasonable and proper sacrifice, especially on any matter or subject which would relate to the Lord and his Gospel message, because we are God's ambassadors and representatives of the Truth, his message, in the world.
In view of these things the Apostle advises that those who are advanced enough in the knowledge of the Truth to appreciate the fact that an idol is nothing, and that the offering of meat to that idol would in no degree affect it, might properly enough use their liberties and eat the meat, asking no questions, but remembering that "the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof;" and, accepting the food as being a part of the Lord's bounty, they may give thanks for it and eat it, regardless of where it has been, whether offered to an idol or not. But if some one should say to the believer, "That meat you are about to eat was offered to an idol," giving the inference that he believed it would be sin to partake of it, then our course should be different: not because our own conscience would smite us with the thought it was sin, nor with the thought that the meat had been injured by laying it before a piece of wood or stone, but for the conscience of the one telling us, lest he should think we were committing a sin, and lest he should be thus led to think lightly of our professions or to similarly partake, and that in violation of his own conscience – he thinking it to be sinful to eat such meat.
The Apostle Paul was thus in some degree stepping beyond the decree of the council at Jerusalem; but while standing up for all that the Jerusalem council had advocated, in so far as it would have any bearing or influence upon others, he nevertheless would recognize the liberty of the people of God, that they are under no law except love. He therefore is in this Scripture endeavoring to show wherein the law of love would have its restraining influence along lines of this question of eating meat offered to idols. The Golden Rule of love would bid us be careful not to stumble the conscience of others, but otherwise it would not restrain us, for as the Apostle says, "Why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?" (1 Cor. 10:29.) If it is not my own conscience which reproves me why need I put myself under bondage in the matter if it will in no wise affect the interests or conscience of another? It is in harmony with the use of this liberty that the Apostle has just suggested that the one discerning his liberty may eat food respecting which he may have his suspicions that it was offered to an idol, and ask no questions about it, so that no one else's conscience may be involved; but if the conscience of another were involved the Golden Rule would immediately operate, and forbid us doing anything which would stumble or injure the conscience of a brother and break our good influence over him.
In a very few instances we have heard of people who endeavored to use the Apostle's argument here to restrain others from their reasonable liberties on various subjects. They put a false interpretation upon the Apostle's words, saying to the brother, "You ought not to do that because I do not want you to do it," or "The Apostle says that you ought not to stumble your brother, and you are stumbling me by not going to Church with me, as I wish you to do and as I think you ought to do."
This is a total mistake, a misapplication of the Apostle's teaching. It is an attempt to shackle and lead him as a slave, using the Apostle's words as a chain of slavery. If a Methodist brother should think that I ought to go with him to meeting on Sunday, a Presbyterian brother or a Lutheran brother or a Baptist or an Episcopalian or a Roman Catholic might each equally think that I should go to their services; yet none of these brothers could or would attempt to claim that the Lord had directed me to go to his particular services, nor could he claim that not to go with him would be a violation of any moral principle. The wrong in such a case would be done by the one who would seek to bring the brother into bondage, and would use the Apostle's arguments in a sophistical manner contrary to their true import and contrary to the Golden Rule, for he would be doing to his neighbor contrary to what he would wish the neighbor to do to him – he would be attempting to reenslave his proper Christian liberties.
On the contrary, we have two matters in our day which closely parallel this difficulty in the Church in the Apostle's day, namely, the temperance question and the Sabbath question. The laws of civilized States usually provide for abstention from labor on one day of the week, and Christian people in general suppose that God has particularly required this of Christians – that it is a divine law, a bondage upon them. As we have already shown,* this is an erroneous view; nevertheless Christians are glad of the opportunity to observe one day in seven for special worship and thankfulness and spiritual feasting. And seeing the general though erroneous view that believers have, it becomes not only our duty, but love makes it a pleasure and a privilege, to carefully abstain from any labors upon that day which the general sentiment of our neighbors would consider to be a violation of the sacredness of the day. Love for them and a desire not to encourage them to violate their consciences, not less than love for the Truth and a desire to have them appreciate the Gospel of which we are the ministers and ambassadors, should lead us to great carefulness on this matter.
The liquor question occupies a similar position in the minds of many. True, there is nothing in the Word of God which prohibits his people from using all the liquors that would do them good, but the majority of the Lord's people are well aware that they would be better without any, and hence that to use liquors in any measure or degree would be to abuse their own persons, and to more or less incapacitate themselves for the service of the Lord and to do good unto all men [R3667 : page 349] according to opportunity in his name. But even if we might use liquors ad libitum without injury, there would be under present conditions and sentiments strong reason why we should avoid every appearance of evil in respect to intoxicating liquors. We realize more and more what a curse it is to the world, and that our influence, if thrown on that side of the question, might ensnare others, who perhaps would be less strong to resist the encroachments and injuries from this demon. We can realize that under present conditions in this land it would be a reflection against us, against the message which we bear, against the Lord whom we represent, to have anything to do with the liquor traffic, or even to enter a liquor saloon on any other business, or to associate ourselves in any manner with so dire an evil, which even the unregenerate realizes to be an enemy to righteousness in every sense of the word. Some of the Lord's people, we feel, are not as particular as they should be in estimating the weight of their influence, and in determining that by the Lord's grace, as the Apostle urges, they will do nothing against the Truth, but will do all in their power for the Truth – for righteousness. – 2 Cor. 13:8.
All must agree that the Apostle's argument is sound. On the one hand everything that we receive is a gift from the Lord, and anything that we can render him thanks for would be proper for us to use in a becoming manner, and none would have a right to condemn us for so doing. None should speak evil of us for doing a thing that we can do with good conscience and with prayer and thankfulness. On the other hand, however, while they have no right to criticize us, we have the right to judge our own conduct and to restrain ourselves, and to determine, as the Apostle elsewhere explains it, that if eating a certain kind of food would cause the stumbling of others, we would gladly agree never to use that kind of food. We are to see our liberties and to use them according to our judgment of the Lord's will, because all things are given us richly to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17.) Eating or drinking, whatsoever we do, do all to the glory of God.
But whenever we see that anything in our lives, however right it may be of itself, would be a hindrance to the spread of the Lord's cause, a dishonor to the Truth in the sight of others, it is for us to sacrifice that thing, to deny ourselves that right, that liberty, that privilege, and give no occasion of stumbling either to Jew or Gentile or to the Church of God.
Blessed is every teacher who can write, as the Apostle does here (v. 33), that his own personal course known to the people of God is in full accord with the teachings he has set before them respecting self-denial for the good of others – "even as I also please all men in all things, not seeking mine own advantage, but the good of the many, that they may be saved." What a noble character was St. Paul's! How willing to lay down his life for the brethren! yea, and in the hope of turning some from being aliens and strangers to make of them brethren through the message of the grace of God. Let us all more and more cultivate the Apostle's spirit and willingness to be and to do anything or everything that the Lord may be glorified and his cause advanced, and that his people and all people may be blessed. This is the spirit of Christ, the spirit of self-sacrifice, the spirit of love, the spirit of a sound mind to seek to do others good at any cost.
We are not to understand the Apostle here to mean that he succeeded in pleasing all men, for we know that he was stoned, beaten, and finally suffered death because he did not please all men; but he was loyal to the Lord, which loyalty meant the disapprobation of men. The Apostle's meaning evidently is that he sought, so far as loyalty to the Lord was concerned and loyalty to the principles of righteousness, to do or be everything for the advancement of the Gospel and the blessing of the people.
Our Golden Text appeals to us forcefully in connection with this lesson. The Lord's people are sometimes in danger through not realizing their own weaknesses. The Apostle said, "When I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Cor. 12:10.) His paradox signifies that when he realized his own weakness, then through this realization he was led to rely upon the Lord and the power of his might, and thus was stronger than he could otherwise have been, strong in the Lord and not in his own strength. This principle is still applicable to us. The moment when we feel self-confident is the dangerous one; the times when we feel our own weakness and are looking to the Lord for grace and help and guidance and strength, this is the time that by reason of his assistance we are strong.
Let us take heed, then, lest we feel over-confident in respect to our own strength, our own standing on these questions of liberties, rights, privileges and self-denials for the good of others. It is right that we should think that we stand, but it is right that we continually appreciate that we stand not in our own strength but in the strength that God supplies through his promises and through his holy Spirit. We are frequently exhorted in the Scriptures not only to rejoice in the Lord and to trust in his power, but to fear and take heed lest we should in any measure slip away from or fail to rightly improve our positions and privileges. On a par with our Golden Text is the Apostle's statement, "Let us fear lest the promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of us should seem to come short of it." (Heb. 4:1.) Love is the test to which all of the Lord's disciples are subject. Love considers the interests of others and seeketh not her own interests; love is willing to sacrifice for the good of others and for the glory of the Lord and for the advancement of his cause. Let love, therefore, abound in our hearts more and more.
The afternoon service for the public was held in Chamber of Commerce Auditorium and was well attended – about 600 being present. The topic, "To Hell and Back. Who are there? Hope for the deliverance of many," was received with close attention for two hours by people not accustomed to sit longer than twenty minutes for a sermon. The evening topic addressed to the interested was, "Yom Kippur, the Sin Atonement or Covering." In this we showed that Oct. 9, the Jewish Atonement Day, was but a type of the greater one, its antitype – the Gospel age. We need not give details of this, for many of our readers got in the Pittsburgh Dispatch a good report on the day following. A midnight train brought us home for Monday's duties and privileges.
This was a rousing Convention. About 300 attended from outside the city, full of love and zeal and animation. Of these about 25 came from New York, about 100 from Boston, 50 more from cities near Boston, and 50 others scatteringly from various points.
The friends here had advertised with still greater energy and wisdom than on the occasion of our previous visit. They had placed 580 large cards in store windows and on the fronts of cars, and in addition had circulated 20,000 smaller cards thoroughly in the city homes. As a result Infantry Hall, the largest in Providence, was crowded, and some were turned away, unable to secure admittance. Of the 2,000 gaining entrance nearly 300 stood for the two hours of the discourse on "To Hell and Back." We learn that one of the audience, asking for a WATCH TOWER on "Hell" said, "I entered this hall an infidel. I am, thank God, leaving it a firm believer in the Bible as God's Word."
The evening session for the interested was not advertised, but between 400 and 500 were present. Our discourse many of you received in the Pittsburgh Dispatch of Oct. 23. Its theme was, "Christ the center of the divine revelation."
The Scranton friends, noting that we would be unable to reach Allegheny from Providence in one night, urged that we give them one meeting on the homeward route. We assented cheerfully. We arrived at 2 p.m., were met at the depot by five of the elders and soon were at the hall, where handshakes and greetings told us that the Scranton friends were still filled with the spirit of love, joy and peace as before, and in accord with the Lord's jewels everywhere. Word had gotten out to the friends residing in surrounding villages and cities, and some of these were present, among them some but a few weeks old in the Truth.
En route to the hall one of the elders remarked, "We have been endeavoring to follow your advice in [R3668 : page 350] the DAWNS, Brother Russell, to put to work all of the brethren giving evidence of ability, and as a result we now have quite a few able to lead Bible studies, to give Chart talks and to deliver occasional addresses. Following your advice further, we have all realized that the field is a broad as well as a ripe one, and have been going out here and there, all of us, as the Lord seemed to show an open door for the Truth. As a result the Truth is making progress here, to our joy and, we trust, to the Lord's pleasement. How many of these outside meetings do you suppose we are keeping up?" We guessed 14; but the reply was, "More than that – 25." We congratulated them, and again commend this plan to all.
A good audience listened for two hours to a discourse on the topic the friends had advertised – "To Hell and Back," etc. Then more hand grasps and "God bless you's" and we were off for the train, accompanied by about a dozen. A special luncheon was thrust into our hands as we left for Allegheny, where we arrived at 7.45 on Tuesday morning.
Answer. – The growing of tobacco is on a par with the selling or using of it. It is not forbidden in the Bible and is contrary to no human law. It is not, therefore, a question of conscience, except where found injurious to health. Nevertheless, we feel a repugnance to the use of tobacco, with its chewing and spitting and abominable odor upon the breath and the clothing. We believe that Christians as they grow in grace desire to be clean every whit – outside and inside, and to give as little offense to others as possible. Such we generally find preferring other business, other food and other habits. We commend this course, wherever reasonable and possible, as being in line with what we believe would have the Lord's approval. But it is not a question of conscience, but of expediency, and each must decide for himself, and often according to circumstances beyond his reasonable control.
Answer. – Conscience may have to do with this question on either side. And conscience never should be violated. It may be educated, however; nay, it is our duty to educate conscience, and God's Word is its best instructor. The spirit of God's Word is to the effect that the elect are a "new creation," whose "citizenship is in heaven," and all of whose interests, temporal and spiritual, [R3668 : page 351] center in "Thy Kingdom come." Assuredly we must have dealings with the world to earn our living decently, but all of this class should be on the alert to foster the interests of the new nature, and experience proves that the less we have to do with the "world" and its politics the better will be our spiritual health. What will our votes amount to anyway? Even if we all voted the one ticket we would change no election. Our advice then is that as nothing is to be gained and much time and spiritual energy sure to be lost by dabbling in politics, the consecrated will be exercising the spirit of a sound mind in the wisdom from above in leaving the world's affairs to its own care. See further DAWN Vol. I, chaps. 13 and 14; also Vol. VI., pp.593,594.
Answer. – We need to analyze our thoughts, and to remember that they are deceitful above all things; that they sometimes endeavor to cheat us as to their real motives. It seems to us that the craving which we all would have for physical healing is considerably of a piece with a desire we all would have to see some miracle performed – a desire to walk by sight and not wholly by faith. On the other hand, to our understanding the Lord's wish is that we of the Gospel age shall walk wholly by faith and not at all by sight. Hence the signs were permitted in the beginning of the age, for the establishment of the Church, and were subsequently dropped that the Church, established by the Word of the Lord in its hands, should walk by faith entirely. Another thought which might assist the craving for miracles of healing would be the relief from pain but this would be in the nature of a selfish wish also; and if the Lord should relieve from pain it would be one step toward relief from disease, and if disease were eradicated why not also pray for relief from homeliness, crooked heads, bad dispositions, etc.? In a word, why not ask the Lord to make us over again? But this, as will be perceived, would be restitution, which is not a part of the divine order now, but God's arrangement for the next age. The object, as we have seen, of the calling of the Church in this age is to sacrifice, and we are to remember also that it is not the new creature that is sacrificed, but the old creature – the new creature is renewed day by day. The Lord heals all its diseases; that is to say, he cooperates with us for the healing of spiritual defects, and promises a completion of the work in the resurrection of the spiritual body. This is what we get in exchange for the surrender of earthly rights of restitution. We should be glad indeed that, coming to the Lord and being justified by faith, our poor old bodies, already almost dead, will be permitted to go down into death and the matter reckoned a complete sacrifice, whereas it is only a fragment. If, on the contrary, we were restored to physical perfection, it would mean that we would have a great deal more to sacrifice before we could possibly expect to die. Hence it is more favorable to us that the Lord reckons our bodies perfect and then sacrificed, because we have that much the less sacrificial service to perform, yet counted of him as complete sacrifice.
Question. – The subject of our relationship with Christ, he as the Head, we the members of his body, is not clear to me. How could the Lord be Head over a body which was not in existence when he was glorified? How can the feet exist in the world without the remainder of the body likewise?
Answer. – To the natural mind, uninstructed from the standpoint of the Scriptures, it would seem inconsistent to say that Jesus, the Head of the body, was glorified before any members of his body had even been called; but when we view the matter from the Scriptural standpoint we see that this is the very thought presented, and it is the essence of wisdom, therefore, to accept the divine statement and to harmonize our natural reasons therewith. Similarly the entire Church, from our Lord's day to the present time, is counted as the one body of Christ – which body we are, the living stones, being polished and fitted and prepared for the glorious Temple, not yet completed. As represented in MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I., in the Chart of the Ages, this union between Christ and the Church is a perpetual one throughout this age, the lines of the Head being preserved in the Church which is the body of Christ, as the lines of the small pyramid are preserved in the lower parts of the same. From this standpoint it is entirely consistent to speak of the living members of the Church as being the "feet class," as it is consistent to speak of our Lord at his first advent as being the Head of a body not then even called. There are many Scriptures, when you come to study the subject, which speak of the last members of the Church as "the feet of him." "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth." – See DAWN, Vol. II., pp.141,142.
There are two views which may properly be taken respecting the members of the body of Christ. One views them chronologically from Head to feet, as also the seven churches of Rev. 1-3. The other view recognizes the Church at any particular point of time as a complete Church, having in it the representatives of the various functions of the entire body, as described by the Apostle in 1 Corinthians 12. In this latter view some of the members of the body of Christ at the first advent were more important members, representing the quality of eye, ear or tongue, hands, etc., while other members represented less important functions of feet, legs, etc., as the Apostle explains, and this has been true of the Church in any and every stage of its existence, and is true today. But these two separate views of the matter should not be confused nor made to conflict with each other.
IN presenting our list of Bibles this year we have dropped a number which we have previously carried and have selected others which we think more desirable. We give below a list which, although not very large, we think will cover a range sufficiently broad to suit the wants of nearly all. However, should any of the friends desire a more complete list to select from, we shall be pleased to mail publishers' catalogues upon postal card application.
DIVINITY CIRCUIT TEACHERS' BIBLES No. (Add Postage on these, 20c each.) Pub. Our 04403 Minion, French Seal, div. circ., selected helps, Price Price 7¼ x 5........................................... 1.20 .84 8301 Minion, French Morocco, div. cir., red under gold, full teachers' helps, 7¾ x 5¾........... 1.45 .95 (Add Postage on these, 26c each.) 8701 Long Primer, French Morocco, div. cir., red under gold, teachers' helps 8⅜ x 5½........... 1.95 1.25 8709 Same as 8701, leather lined, full helps............... 2.75 1.80 COMBINATION TEACHERS' BIBLES These Bibles show the variations of the Revised Version at the foot of each page. Otherwise it is an ordinary "Teachers' Bible," with maps, concordance, etc., illustrated. (Add Postage on these, 28c each.) 610 Bourgeois, French Seal, div. cir., red under gold, 8 x 6 x 1¾................................. 5.00 1.25 612 Same as 610, linen lined.............................. 5.50 1.38 614 Same as 610, leather lined............................ 6.00 1.55 LINEAR TEACHERS' BIBLES Hitherto these Bibles have been sold by Subscription Agents only. Its special feature, differentiating it from other Teachers' Bibles, is that it shows the readings of the Common and Revised Versions side by side in the same line. (This is the Bible of which we procured a special edition with wide margins and DAWN and TOWER references thereon; and of which edition we have no more.) (Add Postage on these, 30c each.) 350 Small Pica, French Seal, red under gold, full teachers' helps, 8¾ x 6 x 1½.................. 6.00 2.10 355 Small Pica, French Morocco, div. circ., red under gold, leather lined, full teachers' helps, 8¾ x 6 x 1½................................... 8.00 3.15 360 Small Pica, Levant Morocco, div. circ., red under gold, kid lined, full teachers' helps, 8¾ x 6 x 1½...................................10.00 4.25 POCKET BIBLES (Add Postage on these, 15c each.) 01150 Ruby, French Morocco, limp, round cor., red under gold, text only, 5⅝ x 3⅞................ .65 .46 01153 Same as above, div. circ.............................. .75 .53 03008 Pearl, French Seal, div. circ., linen lined, 5¾ x 3¾, references........................... 1.00 .60 01327 Minion, French Morocco, div. circ. red under gold, text and maps, 5¾ x 3¾.................. 1.00 .70 194 Minion, French Seal, div. circ., red under gold, text only, 5¾ x 3⅝ x 1........................ 1.10 .75 01329 Minion, Arabian Morocco, div. circ., leather lined to edge, red under gold, text and maps, 5¾ x 3¾....................................... 1.45 1.00 INDIA PAPER POCKET BIBLES (Add Postage on these, 8c each.) 01103x Diamond, French Morocco, div. cir., red under gold, 4½ x 2½ x 1/2........................... 1.40 .98 01157x Ruby, French Morocco, div. cir., leather lined 5⅝ x 3⅞ x 1/2................................. 2.00 1.35 03114x Ruby, Persian Levant, div. cir., leather lined silk sewed, red under gold, 5⅝ x 4¾, refs..... 3.25 2.15 (Add Postage for these, 4c each.) 0602x Brilliant, Persian Morocco, limp, round cor., red under gold, 3⅝ x 2 x 5/8, (Vest Pocket Bible) 2.25 1.55 02002x Same as 0602x, div. cir., leather lined, silk sewed, references................................... 2.50 1.70 INDIA PAPER BIBLES (Add Postage for these, 15c each.) 8635 Minion, French Morocco, div. cir., red under gold, 7 x 4¾, only 5/8 in. thick, references..... 1.75 1.13 8636 Same as 8635, leather lined, references............... 2.70 1.89 9635 Brevier, French Morocco, div. cir., red under gold, 7⅛ x 5, 1 in. thick, references............ 2.75 1.88 9636 Same as 9635, leather lined, references............... 3.75 2.50 03265x Minion, Levant Morocco, div. circ, calf lined silk sewed, 6⅞ x 4⅝ x 11/16, references....... 4.50 2.85 03274x Minion, Alaska Seal, div. cir., leather lined to edge, silk sewed, red under gold, with maps and concordance, 7¼ x 5.......................... 4.50 3.00 03554x Brevier, Alaska Seal, div. cir., leather lined to edge, silk sewed, red under gold edges, full teachers' helps, 8⅛ x 5½................. 5.50 3.60 0865½xLong Primer, Levant, div. cir., calf lined to edge, silk sewed, round corners, red under gold, full teachers' helps, 7¾ x 5¼........... 8.00 5.20THE FOLLOWING THREE ARE NEW AND SPECIALLY DESIRABLE BECAUSE TYPE IS VERY LARGE AND CLEAR FOR SIZE OF BOOK.
3596xA Bold Face Brevier, Alaska Seal, calf lined to edge, etc. full teachers' helps, 7¼ x 5..................... 6.00 2.50 2596xB Same type and binding as 3596x, with Maps, Biblical Gazetteer and Concordance.................. 5.75 2.40 2596xC Same type and binding as 3596x, with Maps and Biblical Gazetteer.............................. 5.50 2.30 REVISED VERSION BIBLES (Add Postage, 10c.) 040 Pearl, Cloth, red edges, 5½ x 4½................ .40 .30 (Add Postage, 20c.) 060 Minion, Cloth, red edges, 8¼ x 5½............... 1.00 .75 OXFORD REVISED BIBLES (Amer. Com.) (Add Postage on these, 25c each.) 3750 Brevier, Cloth, round cor., red edges, maps, 8 x 5⅝........................................... 1.00 .70 3752 Brevier, French Morocco, div. cir., red under gold, 8 x 5⅝..................................... 2.00 1.30 AMERICAN STANDARD REVISED BIBLE (Add Postage on these, 20c each.) 160 Bourgeois, Cloth, References.......................... 1.00 .80 172 Bourgeois, French Seal, References.................... 2.00 1.60 (Add Postage on these, 30c each.) 260 Long Primer, Cloth, References........................ 1.50 1.15 272 Long Primer, French Seal, References.................. 3.00 2.25 LAP BIBLES FOR THE AGED – References, Light Weight Large Print (Add Postage on these, 25c each.) 2002 Pica, Cloth, red edges, 9¼ x 6½ x 1¼......... 2.00 .90 2014 Pica, French Seal, limp, size same as 2002............ 2.75 1.37 2022 Pica, French Seal, div. cir., size same as 2002....... 3.50 1.75 CHILDREN'S ILLUSTRATED BIBLES (Add Postage on these, 6c each.) 252 Minion, French Morocco, limp, red under gold 32 illustrations, 5¾ x 3⅝...................... 1.20 .84 254 Same as 252, French Morocco, div. cir.................. 1.40 1.00 TESTAMENTS (Add Postage on these, 5c each.) 030 Ruby, French Morocco, limp, round corner, red under gold, 4 x 2¾........................... .30 .18 033 Same as 030, div. cir................................. .45 .28 0130 Same as 030, with Psalms.............................. .37 .24 0133 Same as 033, with Psalms.............................. .50 .35 010 Diamond, Venetian Morocco, limp, round cor., 3¾ x 2¼ x 1/4................................. .50 .35 014 Diamond, Arabian Morocco, div. cir., leather lined to edge, red under gold, 3¾ x 2¼ x 1/4.. 1.15 .75 2142px Nonpareil, French Seal, limp, leather lining, round corners, red under gold, Psalms, self-pronouncing................................... 1.00 .50 2142x Same as above, without Psalms......................... .80 .40 287 Brevier, Roan, gilt edge, Psalms,..................... .35 .35 NEW TESTAMENTS FOR THE AGED (Add Postage on these, 10c each.) 212 Small Pica, Roan, square cor., 5¾ x 8¼.......... .35 .35 283 Same as above, with Psalms, 8¼ x 5½ x 3/4....... .45 .45 REVISED TESTAMENTS 0100 Brevier, Cloth, red edges, 16 mo., including postage, 23c. TEXT BIBLES (Postage, 7c.) 178 Agate type, cloth, red edges, 4 x 5¾............... .15 .15 (Postage, 12c.) 131 Nonpareil type, cloth, red edges, 5¼ x 7¼....... .25 .25 THUMB INDEX ON ANY BIBLE, 25c EXTRA
This very valuable work, published under the author's copyright by Fowler & Wells Co., New York City, has been sold by them at $4 in cloth and $5 in half leather binding. For several years a friend, an earnest Bible student, desirous of assisting the readers of our Society's publications, has supplied them through us at a greatly reduced price; now he has purchased the copyright and plates from the Fowler & Wells Co., and presented the same to our Society as a gift, under our assurance that the gift will be used for the furthering of the Truth to the extent of our ability, by such a reduction of price as will permit the poor of the Lord's flock to have this help in the study of the Word.
REDUCED PRICES. – These will be sold with ZION'S WATCH TOWER only. In cloth binding $1.50 (6s. 3d.) – includes postage and one year's subscription, new or renewal, to Z.W.T. On thin paper, in full morocco leather, divinity circuit, red under gold edges, silk sewed leather lined, $2.50 (10s. 6d.) – includes postage and one year's subscription to Z.W.T.
This is the ordinary Common Version in cloth binding. As footnotes it gives the reading of the three oldest Greek MSS., Sinaiticus, Vaticanus and Alexandrine, wherever these differ from the Common Version. This is a very valuable little work, published in Europe, which we specially import for the benefit of our readers. Price, 40c, including postage.
This, too, is a valuable work, and an aid in critical study. It is translated from the Syriac instead of from the Greek. It is claimed by some that it was the language in which our Lord and the apostles spoke and wrote, and that the Greek was translated from this. Our price, in half leather binding, postage included, $2.00.
This is the standard translation amongst English reading Hebrews, by one of their own rabbis. It is not perfect, but is a valuable aid in critical study of the Old Testament. Our special price, in leather binding, including postage, is $1.10.
In English, Hebrew and Greek, by Prof. Young (Presbyterian). A valuable work for all critical students. Price, in cloth binding, $5, including postage. We are not permitted by the publishers to cut this price; but may and do give postage free and give besides a premium of any four volumes of the MILLENNIAL DAWN series in cloth binding with each Concordance, or six volumes if purchaser pays the expressage.
In English, Hebrew and Greek, by Prof. Strong (Methodist). This is also an able work and useful in critical study. It has some advantages over Young's; after getting used to it we prefer it. Price, in cloth binding, $6; half leather, $8. We will pay mail or express charges on these, and in addition give as a premium all six volumes of the DAWN series in cloth binding, with each Concordance, or nine volumes if purchaser pays expressage.
This is the best book of its kind we have ever seen. It presents the Bible stories in simple, but not childish language, and seems remarkably free from the bad theology so common in this class of books. All Christian parents should have a Sunday Bible lesson with their children, and this book furnishes interesting topics, to which may be added as much concordant "present truth" as the age of the children will justify. Parents are responsible for their children's training in theology as well as morals. This will assist you in the discharge of this duty, and thus be a blessing to yourself as well as to your children.
The pages are of the same width as those of DAWN, but a little shorter. The paper, etc., are good and the cloth binding is neat and attractive; 190 pages, price 35c postpaid; – to WATCH TOWER subscribers at the wholesale rate, 20c each, postpaid, or in quantities, charges collect, 15c. Free to any WATCH TOWER subscriber too poor to pay for it, on request.
We hope that this little book will find a place at every breakfast table; and that spiritual refreshment may thus be enjoyed with the natural food, stimulating thankfulness to the Giver of all Good and thus inducing the peace of God and favoring both spiritual and natural health and well-being.
Calls for DAWNS divided into small portions, light, convenient for the pocket, that could be read on the cars, etc., led us to prepare an India-paper edition. The entire volume is on this very fine paper reduced to three-eighths of an inch in thickness and about four ounces in weight. The type is exactly the same size as in the regular editions. It is a beauty. Leather covers, gold edges. It costs with postage 68 cents per volume, at which price it is supplied to WATCH TOWER subscribers.
One thousand copies of Vol. I. went out quickly and led to another edition and the placing of order for the other volumes in the same elegant style. We now have the first three volumes. Order as you may please.
Some years ago a Sister presented, as a Christmas token, to the editor of this journal, a little oil-painting of a chestnut bough bearing two closed chestnut burrs and an open one showing three chestnuts; one green leaf and one seared and yellow completed the picture. At one corner was the quotation from 1 Tim. 2:6, "In Due Time."
Friends visiting the Bible House admired the picture and the lesson it taches: that God's plan like the chestnut burr opens not until the "due time" to give us its fruit; that all efforts to open it beforehand must ever be fruitless.
Believing that the picture in many of our homes would serve as text for short and interesting sermons we have ordered some printed, giving detail faithfully. The work comes from Germany, and is promised us by Christmas or before. We feel sure that each reader will desire a copy. Price including postage is ten cents each. If ordered in lots of twenty or more, or if ordered with other mottoes, packing and postage being less, we can supply them at five cents each.
Specimen Lines of Various Sizes of Type Referred to on Reverse Page: This line is Brilliant type. This line is Diamond type. This line is Pearl type. This line is Ruby type. This line is Nonpareil type. This line is Emerald Minion. This line is Emerald type. This line is Minion type. This line is Brevier type. This line is Bourgeois type. This line is Long Primer type. This line is Small Pica type.[R3669:: ]
[The plan here proposed we designate "GOOD HOPES," because nothing is actually promised – only your generous hopes expressed, based upon your future prospects as they now appear to you. The plan proved not only so beneficial to the cause of truth, but also so blessed to the hopers, for some years past, that we again commend it to all as Scriptural and good. Those who desire to make use of this plan can fill out both of these memoranda. One should be kept for the refreshment of your memory; the other mail to us.]
Dear Friends: – I have read with interest of the openings for the Dawn and Tract work in foreign lands and here at home. I need not tell you that I am deeply interested in the spread of the Glad Tidings of the lengths and breadths, the heights and depths of redeeming love expressed for us in God's great Plan of the Ages.
I am anxious to use myself – every power, every talent, voice, time, money, influence, all – to give to others this knowledge, which has so greatly blessed, cheered and comforted my own heart and placed my feet firmly upon the Rock of Ages.
I have been considering carefully, and praying to be instructed, how to use my various talents more to my Redeemer's glory and for the service of his people – those blinded by human tradition who are, nevertheless, hungering for "the good Word of God," and those also who are naked, not having on the wedding garment of Christ's imputed righteousness, the unjustified, who stand at best in the filthy rags of their own righteousness. I have decided that so far as my "money talent" goes, I will follow the rule so clearly laid down for us by the great Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 16:2), and will lay aside on the first day of each week, according to my thankful appreciation of the Lord's blessings during the preceding week. Out of this fund I wish to contribute to the several parts of the Lord's work specified on the back of this letter. Of course, I cannot in advance judge or state particularly what the Lord's bounty may enable me to set apart weekly, and hence you will understand the sum indicated to be merely my conjecture or hope, based upon present prospects. I will endeavor to contribute more than I here specify; and should I not succeed in doing as well, the Lord will know my heart, and you, also, will know of my endeavors.
My only object in specifying in advance what I hope to be able to do in this cause is to enable those in charge of the work of publishing and circulating the Tracts, etc., to form estimates, lay plans, make contracts, etc., with some idea of what I will at least try to do in the exercise of this my highly appreciated privilege.
My present judgment is that during the coming year, by self-denial and cross-bearing, I shall be able to lay aside on the first day of each week for Home and Foreign Mission Work (to assist in circulating Millennial Dawn in foreign languages, and in publishing the "Old Theology Tracts" in various languages, and in supplying these gratuitously to brethren who have the heart and opportunity to circulate them widely, and in meeting the expenses of brethren sent out as "Pilgrims" to preach the divine plan of salvation, and in general to be expended as the officers of the Society may deem best), the amount of................per week.
To comply with United States Postal Laws, all or any portion of my donation may be applied as subscription price for Watch Tower or O.T. Tracts sent to the Lord's poor or others, as the Society's officers may deem advisable.
That the work be not hindered, I will endeavor to send you what I shall have laid aside for this cause at the close of each quarter. I will secure a Bank Draft, Express Order or Postal Money Order as I may find most convenient, and will address the letter to
"Bible House," Allegheny, Pa. (Name).......................................................... (Post Office).....................(State).......................[R3670]
The friends who contribute to the "Good Hopes" (described on the reverse of this sheet) at times desire to send the Watch Tower to friends who are not yet interested enough to subscribe for themselves; or to deeply interested friends who are too poor to subscribe and backward about accepting our Lord's Poor offer. They are invited to give us such addresses below – the expense to be deducted from their donations. Give full addresses, and write very plainly please, mentioning the length of the subscriptions. __________
For several years we have been supplying our readers with handsome text and motto cards for the walls of their homes. Their influence is excellent; for they continually and cheerfully catch the eye and remind the heart of our great favors present and to come, based upon the exceeding great and precious promises of our Father's Word. We commend these as helps in the "narrow way," – helps in character-building.
We have for your convenience put these up in four assortments at $1.00 per package, including postage. We also have a 50c assortment of the smaller sized mottoes. If you get any of these you will be pleased; but if you have already had some, mention when and how many, that we may send you different ones now.
These are published quarterly, copies being sent to all subscribers. Other copies, for distribution among friends, from house to house, for enclosure in letters, and in general for use in such ways as seem judicious, are supplied freely, the expense entailed by the great demand for them being borne by the Tract Fund of voluntary contributions. Write for the tracts as you feel able to use them, even if not so well able to contribute toward the expense; some who are not able, and do contribute, do not have opportunities personally to use all that their contributions pay for, so that the matter is equalized and all may have a part in this service of disseminating the truth.
We are convinced that the Watch Tower lists do not contain the names of one-half of those deeply interested in its teachings. The total is small enough surely, and we are not content that the name of any should be missing. We believe that all such will be stimulated and encouraged on the "narrow way" by its semi-monthly appearance on their table, reminding them afresh of spiritual matters which the world, the flesh and the devil continually tend to crowd out of mind and heart.
Hitherto we have required that all desiring the Watch Tower on credit, or free, as "the Lord's Poor," should make personal application; but now we request every subscriber to inquire among those whom he knows to be interested in present truth, and to obtain the consent of all such to send in their subscriptions either on credit or free, as their circumstances may necessitate. Any getting it on credit may at any future time request that the debt be cancelled, and we will cheerfully comply. We desire that as nearly as possible the Watch Tower lists shall represent all those deeply interested in its message.
Our object is not the gain of "filthy lucre," but "the perfecting of the saints for the work of ministry" – present and to come. (Eph. 4:12.) We offer no premiums, desiring the co-operation of such only as appreciate the privilege of being co-workers with us in this ministry. Our list is now about 22,000; but it should be at least 30,000, and we confidently expect the above program to bring it to that figure. Let as many as appreciate it as a privilege, join at once in this service.
Most of our subscriptions end with the year, so we take this opportunity to remark that we will be glad to hear promptly from such as desire the visits of the Watch Tower continued. This applies to all who get it on the Lord's Poor list as well as to those who pay. When names are dropped and afterward renewed it makes us unnecessary trouble.